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Tour de France

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!http://www.active.com/images/newsletters/cyclist/TourdeFrance2007/images/fredrod.jpg|style=padding:10px;|align=left|src=http://www.active.com/images/newsletters/cyclist/TourdeFrance2007/images/fredrod.jpg!Sorry guys. Haven’t been keeping up with my blogs. I guess the fatigue of the race is starting to slow me a bit.

 

Yesterday was one of those long days where I just had it set in my head that I would sit in the peloton and rest as much as possible.

 

That proved to be hard as the pace was out of control. The heat being up in the 100s didn't help. Yesterday we all knew a breakaway would go, but after 70 kilometers we started to wonder as the race was still all together.

 

As guys relaxed a bit and people took their nature breaks, the attack went. It was almost funny to watch as they basically rolled off the front, while most of us just watched. It would have taken only three pedal strokes for anyone to cover that move, but at the same time, everyone was happy to see it go.

 

After that, Rabobank chased all day. The pace wasn’t too high, but with a long and hot day, it seemed to go on forever. I remember being very happy to see the first KOM banner, as it meant the race was coming to an end.

 

So, after all that, I don't think I had much of a rest day, but I don't think anyone else did either, so we are at par. The worst went to the breakaway boys. They sure had a hard day.

Freddie

 

Colombian-born Freddie Rodriguez is a professional American road racing cyclist. He is a three-time US national champion and currently races for team Predictor-Lotto. His nickname, "Fast Freddie," is due to his reputation as a sprint specialist. His Fast Freddie Coffee , the Fast Freddie Foundation , and his new Team Fast Freddie help to raise funds to support youth cycling in America. Freddie resides in Emeryville, California, USA and Girona, Spain. Freddie is riding this year's Tour and will give us an insider's perspective on life inside the peloton. He welcomes questions and will try to respond during the Tour.

815 Views 4 Comments Permalink Tags: 2007-tour-de-france, fast-freddie-rodriguez, freddie_rodriguez, 2007_tour_de_france

!http://www.active.com/images/newsletters/cyclist/TourdeFrance2007/images/Pensec4150x150.jpg|style=padding:10px;|align=left|src=http://www.active.com/images/newsletters/cyclist/TourdeFrance2007/images/Pensec4150x150.jpg!Where should I start? Lots of things have happened today on the race and in the backstage. Let’s start with the race...

 

Today was a classic transition stage where leaders could have a rest. Usually, you only have two scenarios possible. The first one is a big ending in a final mass sprint, and the second one, the one we had, is a serious echappée that ends up by making it till the end.

 

So, what you have to look at during these stages is the strategy of the leaders. How they manage their efforts and how they stick in the peloton to stay high in the rankings. Tomorrow will be pretty much the same thing I guess, so pay attention to leaders and how they manage the Tour. This is where you start wining the Tour actually.

 

Let’s go backstage now with an incredible fight (verbal one, of course) between Laurent Fignon and Christohpe Moreau just a few minutes ago. Everybody knows Laurent Fignon, the great athlete, but Laurent is also now working as a TV consultant for a French television and Laurent is used to saying what he thinks, if you know what I mean. So after the Tignes stage in the Alps, Laurent said clearly that Moreau got very stupid on that stage by launching lots of offensives without really putting what it takes to make benefit out of one (at least). Two days later Moreau heard that and when he saw Fignon this evening, he basically explained him that he should no longer talk about a sport that he had left quite some time ago now. Honestly, Moreau was not in a great position as you could feel that everybody was behind Fignon. Everybody has a huge respect for Laurent when we are still waiting from Moreau to confirm at the highest level, if you know what I mean. So it was interesting to see how Moreau could get on fire for what was the simple truth: he had not played his Tignes stage smartly. Team managers are not doing their jobs or are we getting into a cycling star system where you can’t tell an athlete when he is wrong?

 

The second today’s hot news is about Sinkewitz. You all know about his bike crash by now, but guess what? He has been tested positive for testosterone today...and this is not just that bad, it’s actually even worse.

 

The German TV that is broadcasting the Tour has decided to cancel the broadcast for today--so no show in Germany today, as well as tomorrow, and we don’t know yet about the day after tomorrow. They told the Tour that if any young rider was controlled positive during the Tour, they would cancel the show.

 

The problem here is that the control was made on June 4th (during a training in the Pyrénées) so pretty much a month and half ago, so it’s not fair for the Tour to be impacted by this control.

 

It’s a BIG shame that no one has been able to bring this test to the attention of the Tour before the Tour starts. If it happened before the Tour, it would have been a sad news but with the Tour starting we would have focused on the race and moved to something else. Everybody is talking about that here, and I’m betting that in two weeks, we will still be talking about it.

 

So, I’m very sad today for the sports of cycling. You all know that this sport relies on private partners and that these partners sponsor the cycling because you get an incredible ROI as you get on the air for hours for a very cheap price. So, if tomorrow for management problems and organisation problems the Tour has to stop because there is no more TV which wants to get into a “dirty” sport, then it’s the end of cycling...and I’m sure no one wants that.

 

So I don’t know what went wrong but it really is time to focus on the organisations that are ruling cycling or it’s just going to be the end of cycling. The upcoming days are very important and I’m not talking about the race here.

Ronan

 

Ronan Pensec participated in 8 Tours, and wore the yellow jersey in the 1990. He now operates Ronan Pensec Events , an official Tour de France operator hosting VIP cycling tours for recreational cycling enthusiasts.

795 Views 2 Comments Permalink Tags: 2007-tour-de-france, ronan_pensec, ronan-pensec, 2007_tour_de_france

!http://www.active.com/Assets/Cycling/RobKlingensmith.jpg|style=padding:10px;|align=left|src=http://www.active.com/Assets/Cycling/RobKlingensmith.jpg!After summiting the fourth major climb of the daythe hors catégorie Port de BalèsI turned my attention to the gripping 15-mile descent. At 5,800 feet, the air was quite cool, and I shivered from equal parts chill and fear as I pointed my bike downhill, trying to stay clear of the kamikaze cyclists whistling by me at 50 mph. The newly paved switchbacks were just one-and-a-half lanes wide, but the lack of guardrails convinced me not to get too close to the asphalt’s edge; the drop was significant and I wanted to avoid riding home in an ambulance after making it this far.

 

I was participating in my first Etape du Tour, one of Europe’s top amateur sport rides that follows the exact route of one stage of the Tour de France. This year, we rode Stage 15 from Foix to Loudenvielle. The event’s length122 milescombined with over 14,000 feet of climbing, made it the most difficult in the history of the Etape, and certainly the single most challenging day of cycling that I’d ever experienced.

 

The day began with 8,500 nervous cyclists cramming into numerous starting pens in the village of Foix. Despite a 7 a.m. gun, it took 20 minutes to cross the starting line. Once moving, in just six short miles we reached our first climb, the second catégorie Col de Port. Coming so early in the event, the field had no chance to spread out, so the ascent was clogged with riders. This forced most to start conservatively, but also caused many to release their frustrations by launching into their first descent far too quickly.

 

The consequences of this strategy were realized only five kilometers down the mountain, with a major traffic jam of police and EMTs who were attending to a horribly injured cyclist lying in the middle of the road. The inert rider, blood on the pavement and smashed bike were not-so-subtle reminders that today’s descents were every bit as serious as the climbs.

 

Thirty miles of pace lines sped us to the second climb and descent of the infamous Col de Portet d’Aspet, site of Olympic gold medalist Fabio Casartelli’s fatal accident in 1995. Its 17 percent corkscrew gradients and blind hairpins were truly frightening, and I felt as if I’d dodged a bullet getting beyond it in one piece.

 

Up until that point we’d been fortunate to have some cloud cover that kept the temperature down. But at the start of the steep five-mile climb of the Col de Menté, the sun came out and riders began to suffer. On this third slope I maintained a slightly more ambitious pace and powered over the col for yet another very fast descent. My confidence was building, and it felt as if my Cervélo SLC-SL was on rails. Maybe I was figuring out this descending technique...

 

As good as I was feeling, the first 87 miles of the event were simply a warm-up for the remaining 35. Our next obstacle was the imposing Port de Balès. Its 12 miles of climbing including some of the steepest sections that we’d encountered all day, plus melted pavement that convinced me that the air had leaked out of my tires. What began as an exhilarating day of international cycling was quickly turning into an old-fashioned sufferfest.

 

Halfway up the climb at least a third of the participants were off their bikes walking, stretching or even lying in the stream to cool off. This was beginning to look like a death march. My speed was slowing to the point of defying gravity (how was I keeping my bike upright, going so slowly?), but I kept grinding through the kilometers. With two kilometers to go I popped through the treeline, got blasted by a cold headwind and could finally see the summit moonscape up ahead.

 

Having finally crested the highpoint of the Etape, all that remained was the nerve-wracking descent of the Port de Balès, the final five-mile climb up the famous Col de Peyresourde and a blistering descent into Loudenvielle.

 

Of the 8,500 who had entered, about 75 percent finished this year’s Etape du Tour. As a recreational cyclist, riding just one of the 20 stages of the Tour de France puts into perspective the unbelievable talent of the pros. Most of us in the Etape were riding to simply complete the course; the pros will race the same route at almost twice my average speed.

 

In subsequent entries I’ll tell you more about my equipment, nutrition and what I would have done differently, now that I have the benefit of hindsight. For nowif you’re a cyclist who lives for challenges, loves the sport’s culture and heritage, and are looking for your next big eventI encourage you to consider the Etape du Tour. It belongs on any rider’s life list.

Rob

 

Rob Klingensmith is an avid recreational cyclist and an executive at Active.com. Rob will provide a unique perspective on what it's like to be inside some of the most decisive stages of the Tour.

863 Views 11 Comments Permalink Tags: 2007-tour-de-france, martin-dugard, 2007_tour_de_france, rob_klingensmith, austin_murphy, etape-du-tour

!http://www.active.com/images/newsletters/cyclist/TourdeFrance2007/images/Pensec4150x150.jpg|style=padding:10px;|align=left|src=http://www.active.com/images/newsletters/cyclist/TourdeFrance2007/images/Pensec4150x150.jpg!Have you seen all these fights, échappées and all that? This is what the Tour is all about and we would all love to get days like this for three weeks but you can’t just ask these riders to be on top like that all the time, can you?

 

For me, today’s big news is that Vinokourov has “officially” lost his last chance to win the Tour...and he will now ride for Kloden who is now my big favourite. I know what you think: he changes his mind everyday, but this is what cycling is all about. It’s plenty of surprises, nothing is really rational and anyone can win especially this year.

 

So, if I look at the ratings, I see that Kloden is something like 3:50 behind the leader. I can also see that there is still 90 kilometers of time trial to go, so if Kloden gets 30 seconds on the leader for each 10 kilometers that he rides in a time trial, he could win. You will tell me that there are plenty of other guys who could make it too, but the riders that are ahead of Kloden are all great riders in the mountains, but when it comes to time trial, well, they will surely lose some time to Kloden.

 

So, this is just a feeling and we will see after Albi (the next time trial). If Kloden gets some seconds on each of these guys easily, then we can really think that he will get the yellow jersey in Paris.

 

Finally, I would like to answer Dan's comment: Dan, you are right. I got lost in my thoughts I guess, but I do think that Astana is the strongest team on the field this year...and I think it’s actually the only one.

 

I was first thinking that Vinokourov would play for the victory and all these teammates will back him up but as he is now “down”, I’m looking at their team and I see a strong Kloden who could now be backed up by someone like Vinokourov and what a strong backup don’t you think? What about Kashechkin? One more time, he is a very strong athlete. The three of them could be our musketeers for this year’s tour. How nice would that be?

 

Of course, you will ask me who is going to join them to play D’Artagnan...give me a few days and I will let you know. I have some ideas...

Ronan

 

Ronan Pensec participated in 8 Tours, and wore the yellow jersey in the 1990. He now operates Ronan Pensec Events, an official Tour de France operator hosting VIP cycling tours for recreational cycling enthusiasts.

519 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: 2007-tour-de-france, ronan_pensec, ronan-pensec, 2007_tour_de_france

!http://www.active.com/images/newsletters/cyclist/TourdeFrance2007/images/Pensec4150x150.jpg|style=padding:10px;|align=left|src=http://www.active.com/images/newsletters/cyclist/TourdeFrance2007/images/Pensec4150x150.jpg!I would like to start today by giving you an update on Sinkewitz’s crash yesterday:

 

Sinkewitz will not start tomorrow; he is out of the Tour. He has had an open fracture on the nose and has lost several teeth. The spectator has made an infarctus yesterday and is now in a deep coma. It’s a very sad news and we all appreciate the support that you gave to these guys.

 

As you know, today is a day off, so I have had some time to analyze all the stages and the configuration of this Tour.

 

This year’s Tour doesn’t have any “boss” as we say here, and as we used to have with Lance, for example. There is no strong team either as I told you yesterday, and I’m kind of feeling that we could see pretty much the same Tour as last year. I believe that any rider from the top 15 can win it, which is very exciting.

 

This guy will have to be very strong mentally and physically but there is definitely an opportunity for any guy from the top 15. And the biggest opportunity is definitely tomorrow. I’m surprised that no one tried to really take Vinokourov down when it was possible.

 

Tomorrow is the last day to take Vinokourov out of the race. If you let him pass the Alps without losing too much time, he will fully recover between Montpellier and Marseille and will then win the Tour for sure. I will bet on Vinokourov if no one takes big risks tomorrow.

 

Vinokourov has a very strong team and he has shown some very impressive mental strengths so far, so I’m pretty convinced that tomorrow is going to be decisive for him.

 

So, I’m already guessing what you think: What do they do on a day off like that?

 

Well, the first important thing is to keep the momentum alive by not changing your routine. Cyclists will wake up late and have a consequent breakfast as usual. Then, they will go for a two-hour ride just to keep the sensations and sweat a little bit. You have to keep your body used to burn energy, and even one day without respecting that would have an huge impact in a few days.

 

Then, they will keep a very light meal for lunch, probably a salad, and will rest. They surely won’t go for a walk or anything like that. The goal is to give some rest to your legs. They will finally end up by some massages at the end of the day and they will go to bed as they are used to do before race day.

 

If you have any question on preparations or anything that I could give through my experience, feel free to ask me and I will be more than glad to share my various experiences with you.

 

I can’t wait to tomorrow!

Ronan

 

Ronan Pensec participated in 8 Tours, and wore the yellow jersey in the 1990. He now operates Ronan Pensec Events, an official Tour de France operator hosting VIP cycling tours for recreational cycling enthusiasts.

557 Views 1 Comments Permalink Tags: 2007-tour-de-france, ronan_pensec, ronan-pensec, 2007_tour_de_france

!http://www.active.com/images/newsletters/cyclist/TourdeFrance2007/images/fredrod.jpg|style=padding:10px;|align=left|src=http://www.active.com/images/newsletters/cyclist/TourdeFrance2007/images/fredrod.jpg!We all knew that today would be hard. All the way through, I don't think I even remember a flat road.

 

Right from the start the race was on. I guess the fact that the start was downhill didn't stop guys from attacking. By the time we hit the first climb, everyone wanted to be in the break.

 

T-Mobile was able to control over the first climb. But on the second, a Cat 3, things got out of control. GC guys were jumping in the moves. Cadel decided to go across just in case. Next thing you knew, things were out of control and the break had to be brought back.

 

We went so hard at the bottom of the second climb that the group was all over the place. Finally, the GC guys came back and they let the non-contenders go up the road.

 

Rabobank was not too happy with the move, so they decided to bring it back, or at least hold it close. It seemed as if they were just going to control the pace, but when we hit the first Cat 1 of the day, Rasmussen went on the attack. I don’t think anyone even responded to his move since it was so fast. But the pace did go up a bit, causing me to drift slightly back.

 

I was able to stay near the lead group and make contact seven kilometers from the top. I was happy to make it back, seeing that this would give me more time to relax over the last two climbs.

 

Over the top, I dropped back to get some bottles for the boys. Unfortunately the road was so tight the car couldn’t move up. I had to drift back to the car, which was not a good choice. I grabbed five bottles and hung on tight as we started to hit speeds up over 90 kilometers per hour. I finally made contact with the field, but it was splitting everywhere. I think I had to go harder down the climb than up it.

 

I do remember that O'Grady was getting bottles around the same time that I was. But I just couldn't follow him. To me, he was taking too many risks passing. When I came around a tight bend, he was on the ground, wrapped around a wooden post. It didn't look good--I hate to see those crashes. Not a good sight. It’s just crazy that we’re pushing incredible speeds into blind corners that we’ve never seen. For all we know, each corner could be just a slight bend, or a sharp 90 degree turn. There’s a lot of skill involved, mixed with a lot of luck in deciding how fast we take these corners. And there’s not much there for protection.

 

So after carrying the bottles for 30 kilometers, I finally was able to make it back to the front and perform my last team effort. I basically sprinted to the front, then made my drop-offs as I drifted back. Once I covered all my guys, I gave a quick wave and called it a day.

 

At that point, I had over 20 minutes on the last group. I knew I could relax and just take it easy. Enjoy the view a bit.

 

Finally, with about 10 kilometers to go, the last and biggest group rode up to me. They seemed to be holding a nice pace until the last three kilometers. At first, I thought it was typical “last group style," a desperate increase in speed as we approach the finish. I’m not exactly sure why this happens, but it happens every time. This time, however, I learned that it was because we were pretty close to the time limit. But again, it’s not like the tour is going to send 100 riders home.

 

Later, I found out that Robbie had been dropped on the first climb and had basically been riding on his own. After the crash on the first stage, his body hasn’t felt the same.

 

I was told by the guys who rode the break with Rasmussen that he wasn’t even breathing most of the time. Cadel also seemed to have a good day as he spent the right amount of energy covering the moves. He rode a conservative race, but smart. Cadel is still within hutting distance of the yellow. We all know how well Rasmussen can time trial, so he’ll need a bit more time before he can feel comfortable keeping yellow.

 

Another good ride came from the young German, Gerdemann.

 

That's about it for now. We are staying close to the finish, so the recovery will not be very good the next couple of days because of our elevation. I think we are sleeping at 2,000 meters. But so is everyone else, so I guess we’ll all be tired on Tuesday.

 

I’m still contemplating how much training I want to do on the rest day. Guess I’ll wait and see how I feel when I wake up tomorrow.

 

Good night.

Freddie

 

Colombian-born Freddie Rodriguez is a professional American road racing cyclist. He is a three-time US national champion and currently races for team Predictor-Lotto. His nickname, "Fast Freddie," is due to his reputation as a sprint specialist. His Fast Freddie Coffee, the Fast Freddie Foundation, and his new Team Fast Freddie help to raise funds to support youth cycling in America. Freddie resides in Emeryville, California, USA and Girona, Spain. Freddie is riding this year's Tour and will give us an insider's perspective on life inside the peloton. He welcomes questions and will try to respond during the Tour.

649 Views 6 Comments Permalink Tags: 2007-tour-de-france, fast-freddie-rodriguez, freddie_rodriguez, 2007_tour_de_france

!http://www.active.com/Assets/Cycling/RobKlingensmith.jpg|style=padding:10px;|align=left|src=http://www.active.com/Assets/Cycling/RobKlingensmith.jpg!What’s it really like to ride a stage of the Tour de France? On Monday morning, I’ll be learning the answer to that question first-hand.

 

Each year, the organizers of the Tour de France offer a citizen’s ride called "l’Etape du Tour"the stage of the Tourover the exact route of an actual stage of the race. And just to remind us amateurs that le Tour is serious business, they have a habit of choosing the most difficult stage for the event.

 

This year “the Etape” will be contested on Monday, July 16 (the Tour de France’s first rest day), over the route of Stage 15 from Foix to Loudenvielle. These 196 kilometers (122 miles) feature no less than 14,000 feet of climbing up five major mountain passes of the Pyrenees, including the 20-kilometer hors catégorie Port de Balès.

 

The Etape is limited to 8,500 riders, 5,000 of whom are French. The remaining slots are filled primarily by Europeans. Entries into the Etape are as difficult to obtain as those to the NYC Marathon or Ironman Triathlon, so those who have a confirmed start have prepared quite seriously and now are anxiously awaiting Monday morning’s starting gun.

 

I’ll be riding with a group of Americans and Canadians organized by the Iowa-based tour company Velo Echappé. Included in our group is my Active.com blogging colleague Marty Dugard and Sports Illustrated writer Austin Murphy. I don’t want to say that we’re racing each other, but I suspect that future bar bills and bragging rights are at stake.

 

After arriving in Toulouse on Friday, I’ve spent the last couple of days getting organized and spinning the jet lag out of my legs on my new Cervélo SLC-SL. This is a bit embarrassing. Of course I’m thrilled to be riding what many consider to be the best bike in the peloton, but therein lies the problem: I feel a bit of pressure to live up to the bike. After all, this is the same rig that Frank Schleck rode to victory on Alpe d’Huez last year, and Fabian Cancellara rode to his second stage win in this year’s Tour.

 

It’s Sunday night in France, so I’d better attempt to grab a few hours of sleep before our 4 a.m. wake-up call. Check back to learn how we fared, and if we’ve been able to complete just one mountain stage of the Tour de France.

 

Rob Klingensmith is an avid recreational cyclist and an executive at Active.com. Rob will provide a unique perspective on what it's like to be inside some of the most decisive stages of the Tour.

779 Views 5 Comments Permalink Tags: 2007-tour-de-france, 2007_tour_de_france, l'etape_du_tour, rob_klingensmith, austi_murphy

!http://www.active.com/images/newsletters/cyclist/TourdeFrance2007/images/fredrod.jpg|style=padding:10px;|align=left|src=http://www.active.com/images/newsletters/cyclist/TourdeFrance2007/images/fredrod.jpg!Just got our first teaser to the mountains. I wouldn’t call it a real mountain stage, but by the way we raced, probably harder.

 

From the start, the pace was high. Everyone was looking for a good breakaway, but it wasn’t happening.

 

Not good news for me because if the break didn’t go in the flats, it for sure would go in the first climb. That meant lots of suffering for me.

 

We hit the climb and the attacks were on. I think I saw Hincapie try like four or five times, but teams are afraid of him getting too big of a lead, as he could be a wild card for yellow.

 

Three kilometers from the top, the pace was just a bit too hot for me. I decided to follow the second group, as they seemed to be at a more reasonable pace.

 

I did make a mistake by drifting to the back of the group over the top, not knowing the roads were open. It meant for bad crosswinds. I was dead last in the group, which was costing me too much energy to hang. I knew there were other small groups, so I let go.

 

The hope was that our small group would eventually catch back on when the peloton would finally let the break go.

 

It took a bit longer than I expected. And my little group was having a hard time. Luckily, I had big guns Boonen and Robbie. We all rotated until we finally made contact with the whole group. I think everyone was feeling the effects of that early pace, so I wasn’t the only one in the red.

 

At that point, a big break had formed and we had no one to represent. Cadel was afraid that someone in that group would get too much time, so we decided to help CSC with the chase.

 

From then on the pace was high and the road just went up and down. My job now was to keep Cadel out of the wind. He seems to like my style of cruising through the peloton. I guess, being a sprinter, I seem to be able to open holes that are usually not there. Cadel is a bit of a nervous rider in the peloton, so I have to keep him close to the front. Sometimes I have to put him in his place when he wants to ride too far forward. Lot more wind for both of us. I try to keep him somewhere in the 20th position, at worst. Just far enough to get a good draft, but still close enough to stay out of trouble.

 

We passed the next couple of climbs pretty much under control. My teammates and CSC kept the pace. I was able to ride the front and keep Cadel in a comfortable spot.

 

Once we hit the flats, the race was on a fast pace and we needed to start making ground on the breakaway. With five kilometers from the bottom of the last climb, Lampre came up to give a hand. But they put the pace so high it really put everyone in the red.

 

As we entered the bottom of the climb, I saw the banner and it read 16 kilometers. At the same time, guys started to attack while others sprinted for their lives to keep up. I wasn’t sure how that helped any. It only got rid of the guys that would eventually drop off anyway, so I didn’t see the purpose.

 

I stayed at the front of the group for the first three kilometers in case Cadel needed my help. Then I noticed the road was so steep there would be little I could do, so...time to shut the engine off.

 

I decided to enjoy the crowds and the mountain as I went up. I basically went as slow as I could go up the climb. By the top, the group with the sprinters caught me.

 

At the top, I just hung with Robbie and my teammates. We had plenty of time to make the time cut, so we were in no hurry to make it to the finish. Again the crowds were good. Over the top of the last climb we could only pass one at a time.

 

Cadel tells me he had a good day and didn’t have to dig too deep. Chris seemed to have a harder day. He said he was at the limit over the last climb, but he was still with the first 25 guys. Still a good ride.

 

The rest of our climbers had a bit of a harder day. For our boys, it was just surviving, especially since some of them had some hard work over the course. Chris tells me that Vino didn’t look so hot on the climb, but that was expected.

 

It also seemed that not too many guys really had the gas to make any good attacks. Most guys attacked and could only hold a hard pace for no more than 500 meters.

 

The Tour is still pretty open and guys just don’t seem ready to show their cards. Or they’re scared to, in case it doesn’t pay off.

 

I think tomorrow will really show who has the legs to contend the tour, but I am expecting surprises too.

 

By the way, I have been sitting in the bus for an hour trying to get out of the finishing village. Piece of advice if you come to watch a Tour mountain finish: ride your bike to the finish or make sure you have a hotel there.

 

I would recommend coming to the tour. It’s worth the trip. Something you will always remember. But it isn’t easy, unless you’re my family member and have VIP passes.

Freddie

 

Colombian-born Freddie Rodriguez is a professional American road racing cyclist. He is a three-time US national champion and currently races for team Predictor-Lotto. His nickname, "Fast Freddie", is due to his reputation as a sprint specialist. His Fast Freddie Coffee, the Fast Freddie Foundation, and his new Team Fast Freddie help to raise funds to support youth cycling in America. Freddie resides in Emeryville, California, USA and Girona, Spain. Freddie is riding this year's Tour and will give us an insider's perspective on life inside the peloton. He welcomes questions and will try to respond during the Tour.

632 Views 1 Comments Permalink Tags: 2007-tour-de-france, fast-freddie-rodriguez, freddie_rodriguez, 2007_tour_de_france

!http://www.active.com/images/newsletters/cyclist/TourdeFrance2007/images/Pensec4150x150.jpg|style=padding:10px;|align=left|src=http://www.active.com/images/newsletters/cyclist/TourdeFrance2007/images/Pensec4150x150.jpg!I don’t know how to report that but T-Mobile was doing great so far until they first lost Rodgers and a minute ago Sinkewitz! While Sinkewitz was riding his bike down from the finish to his hotel, he has hit a spectator. He is in very, very bad shape with a head trauma. His face is covered by blood and he has had a cardiac massage a few seconds ago. It’s a big shame that a stupid accident has happened and I’m really hoping that it is not going to be so dramatic. T-Mobile has just lost their two leaders, so it’s almost over for them. It’s a real catastrophe.

 

After this very shocking moment, let me just give you my quick feelings on today’s Tour:

 

It’s been a fantastic day on the Tour, it was as great as we hoped! Have you seen all these echappées and fights? It was amazing to watch.

 

After this stage, my first thought goes to Vinokourov who did very good I think today by sticking to the lead without losing too much time. It’s pretty obvious that with all his injuries he can’t do more than that yet.

 

I’m telling you right now that I’m starting to think that Vinokourov could make a big comeback in the Pyrénnées. Has has such a strong will that he should be able to come back. So pay attention to him when you watch the Tour now.

 

I’ve been looking at the Tour since we have started and so far, I would love to give you a bet for the yellow jersey but I can’t see any team that has everything it takes to make the difference until Paris. There is not a very strong team so far and this is why I’m thinking that it’s gonna be a Tour de France for one man, one strong rider...and Vinokourov could be that strong guy!

 

I will send a message to the T-Mobile team but any cycling passionate should I think take the time to send a little message to the team to support Sinkewitz

Ronan

 

Ronan Pensec participated in 8 Tours, and wore the yellow jersey in the 1990. He now operates Ronan Pensec Events , an official Tour de France operator hosting VIP cycling tours for recreational cycling enthusiasts.

1,181 Views 3 Comments Permalink Tags: 2007-tour-de-france, ronan_pensec, ronan-pensec, 2007_tour_de_france

!http://www.active.com/images/newsletters/cyclist/TourdeFrance2007/images/fredrod.jpg|style=padding:10px;|align=left|src=http://www.active.com/images/newsletters/cyclist/TourdeFrance2007/images/fredrod.jpg!Chris Horner is to Cadel as I am to Robbie. We are their super helpers. We are there to execute that last percentage of work that only few can do. Except Chris does his job at the top of big mountains, while I do mine on the flats, 400 meters from the finish line. The rest of our teammates play key roles, but we are the last buffers before the maximum points. It’s Chris Horner time.

Freddie

 

Colombian-born Freddie Rodriguez is a professional American road racing cyclist. He is a three-time US national champion and currently races for team Predictor-Lotto. His nickname, "Fast Freddie", is due to his reputation as a sprint specialist. His Fast Freddie Coffee, the Fast Freddie Foundation, and his new Team Fast Freddie help to raise funds to support youth cycling in America. Freddie resides in Emeryville, California, USA and Girona, Spain. Freddie is riding this year's Tour and will give us an insider's perspective on life inside the peloton. He welcomes questions and will try to respond during the Tour.

608 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: 2007-tour-de-france, fast-freddie-rodriguez, freddie_rodriguez, 2007_tour_de_france

!http://www.active.com/images/newsletters/cyclist/TourdeFrance2007/images/fredrod.jpg|style=padding:10px;|align=left|src=http://www.active.com/images/newsletters/cyclist/TourdeFrance2007/images/fredrod.jpg!I'm glad you guys are enjoying my detailed rider blog. Sorry about giving you the insider view of how bad the organization is, but someone has to :). Actually, that’s something I'm pretty passionate about, and maybe when I retire I’ll try to help jump start a real riders union--which we don't have!!

 

We were just talking over dinner the other day about how the organization gives us fines for nature breaks at the wrong time, or grabbing a bottle from the car for a bit too long. We should fine them for the bad hotels and dangerous roads. How would the organizers like it if I put them through the same pain? But as Horner puts it, "We’re in France, chances of finding a good bed are slim"--but I think he means during Le Tour de France.

 

A good thing that most of the top teams now have is a traveling team chef. Since we have no control over what we get from the organization, we have to take our meals into our own hands.

 

Our chef is pretty cool. He actually has his own camper, and an assistant to help him buy supplies. Every morning he makes my special omelette, just how I like it. The other day, I asked him if he could find a good bottle of wine for us. Cadel actually gave him a list of foods he likes, so he can keep a varying menu.

 

Actually I'm told the region we are in is well known for 2- and 3-star restaurants. And the specialty is some kind of well-known chicken breast. Tell you all about it if we get it tonight.

 

Kept seeing vineyards as we passed by but, sorry to say, I didn't catch the names as we flew by.

 

Just heard Vino had to get some 30 stitches. Little bit more than me. I’ll be surprised if we see any action from him in the next mountain stages.

 

Talking about hotels, we just arrived at this small village called Chatillon sur Chalaronne. The hotel is called Hotel de la Tour. Very cool, it’s a three-star but it’s one of those places you want to stay at once. Lots of funky, cool things to look at. Every room has something interesting and different. I would recommend room 13. Not Robbie’s room, though--that one’s way too small.

 

Today seemed like a very controlled race, with only one solo attacker. I think it took two minutes for the lone man to get away. From what I understand, he was not too happy to be alone. But as he said on TV today, "It makes for good TV."

 

Again, the weather was warm and the crowds were out. Everyone seemed to enjoy the easier pace after yesterday’s hard ride.

 

The only time the speed went up was for the sprint points. On the first one, Robbie went on the attack. Quickstep quickly got on it and brought him back. I decided to give an attack to make them work for their money. As we came into the last 500 meters, Robbie sat in front of me and Boonen and Zabel behind me. I decided to let a gap open. It seemed to work at first, but Boonen was able to close it and win the sprint. Disappointing, but it did cause Zabel to lose out on points.

 

Later, I asked Robbie why he attacked. He said he needed to open his legs up before the first sprint.

 

After that, we settled into a slow pace again. Finally, about halfway through, Quickstep decided to chase. But it was kind of weird that they started off very fast. I later found out that Robbie was changing his shoes and they wanted to take advantage of him. Not very cool.

 

After that sprint, we decided not to contest the next two sprints so as to save the legs for the final of the race.

 

I did go up to the front to watch Zabel and Boonen go at it. They really went for it. Also, Robbie Hunter was giving a go at it. This time, Zabel had one of his teammates sweep his wheel so as to give some one else a hard time. That happened to be Hunter. They did a bit of pushing around until Hunter almost found himself on his face. Not sure which guy was at fault, but it didn't look pretty. I later heard Hunter pushed the guy in the face--also not cool. Sprinters can be crazy

 

The next sprint, everyone decided to save it for the finish.

 

After that, we had easy roads to the finish. The field sped by without much effort. Not sure if I really like that. Tends to give some guys a false sense of hope that they’ve become sprinters, and get in our way.

 

We played it cool today. Everyone was everywhere. It seems like everyone had a leadout going, but no one seemed to keep the speed high. Robbie, Leif and I found each other with about 2km to go. We sat pretty good about 20 guys back. When we past the 1 km banner, we started to move up. Things looked good as we passed on the outside. Leif was doing a great job breaking the wind.

 

Suddenly, someone hit me from the side and I had to go hard on the brakes. Wasn’t sure what happened at first, but later I was told one of the T-mobile guys crossed wheels with someone and blew up his front wheel, causing him to run right into me.

 

Robbie was able to react fast and get around the mess. He jumped on Hunter’s wheel as they went through 500 meters to go. He then jumped around perfectly to land on Boonen's wheel.

 

At that moment, things looked good. When, in his typical fashion, Zabel came right into Robbie, almost crashing him. That caused Robbie to brake hard, having nowhere to move. We all know Zabel as the quaker in the peloton. He’s really not that fast, but is good at getting himself in the right place at the right time, even at the cause of others. Remember my crash earlier this week? Zabel was actually the one who caused it while he fought for Boonen’s wheel. This time he almost took Robbie out.

 

Let's just say we are not too happy with Zabel right now. This was our last chance this week for a stage win, and it didn't go as planned.

Freddie

 

Colombian-born Freddie Rodriguez is a professional American road racing cyclist. He is a three-time US national champion and currently races for team Predictor-Lotto. His nickname, "Fast Freddie", is due to his reputation as a sprint specialist. His Fast Freddie Coffee , the Fast Freddie Foundation, and his new Team Fast Freddie help to raise funds to support youth cycling in America. Freddie resides in Emeryville, California, USA and Girona, Spain. Freddie is riding this year's Tour and will give us an insider's perspective on life inside the peloton. He welcomes questions and will try to respond during the Tour.

646 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: 2007-tour-de-france, fast-freddie-rodriguez, freddie_rodriguez, 2007_tour_de_france

!http://www.active.com/images/newsletters/cyclist/TourdeFrance2007/images/Pensec4150x150.jpg|style=padding:10px;|align=left|src=http://www.active.com/images/newsletters/cyclist/TourdeFrance2007/images/Pensec4150x150.jpg!What a great and exciting day on the Tour today. With this amazing weather and the bank holiday, we have had lots of people along the road to kick off the Tour.

 

Indeed, today can be considered as the real kickoff. Tomorrow is for sure the BIG day, but with a young rider who won the stage, lots of echappée and Vinokourov and Kloden who are still in the game, it is really promising for tomorrow.

 

Honestly, I was thinking that some teams will use this stage to make a little difference, but with a strong Vinokourov and a good Kloden, teams have obiously decided to hold on until tomorrow to strike their first shot.

 

I would suggest that you take a deeper look at Caisse d’Epargne Team which looks pretty strong to me. We will see how they play along the road but "so far, so good," as you say.

 

Finally, a little blame to the organisation today as riders are blocked in traffic jam with more than two hours and 15 kilometers to go to their hotels. It’s a bit sad to see that the organisation has not thought about doing something special like a different exit or something. Riders are stuck in traffic because of tourists...not good for their preparation.

 

Tomorrow is very promising so stay tuned!

Ronan

 

Ronan Pensec participated in 8 Tours, and wore the yellow jersey in the 1990. He now operates Ronan Pensec Events, an official Tour de France operator hosting VIP cycling tours for recreational cycling enthusiasts.

536 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: 2007-tour-de-france, ronan_pensec, ronan-pensec, 2007_tour_de_france

!http://www.active.com/images/newsletters/cyclist/TourdeFrance2007/images/Pensec4150x150.jpg|style=padding:10px;|align=left|src=http://www.active.com/images/newsletters/cyclist/TourdeFrance2007/images/Pensec4150x150.jpg!Question: I was wondering why the Tour was so slow and was not that exciting to watch and I finally received some interesting information this morning on the weather since we have started five days ago now.

Ronan: Cyclists have had to fight against a permanent headwind during all these stages and I’m starting to believe that the wind has had a real impact on the dynamic of the stages.

 

We have had another classic day on this stage with an échappée caught by the peloton so it all ended up in a sprint one more time.

 

The other key I wanted to give you today when you will watch the Tour is that Kloden and Vinokourov are seriously injured which has a lot of impact on their preparation. Yesterday Vinokourov left the hospital at midnight and it has definitely impacted his preparation. With his different injuries and scratches on the legs, he can’t really get good massages, he can’t sleep well for at least a few days. So these injuries not only have an impact on the day they happened and the following days, but they will have an impact within a week or some when riders will really be tired and will start digging into their reserves.

 

Keep this mind maybe not for tomorrow or the day after tomorrow but later on in the race--it will have an impact for sure.

 

Tomorrow is the first mountain stage and everybody in the Tour de France organisation is kind of really excited about that. Why?

 

Pretty obvious: Lots of riders are within seconds of each other, and big favourites like Vinokourov will strike hard tomorrow to get back in the race as this is the kind of stage where you can earn points and make a comeback. Lots of riders will also fight for the dots and competitors like Cancellara will go hard to stay on top. So we will have action tomorrow as each team has an opportunity to make a difference on the rest of the Tour.

 

Tomorrow and Sunday will be exciting so stay tuned and enjoy the show!

Ronan

 

Ronan Pensec participated in 8 Tours, and wore the yellow jersey in the 1990. He now operates Ronan Pensec Events , an official Tour de France operator hosting VIP cycling tours for recreational cycling enthusiasts.

551 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: 2007-tour-de-france, ronan_pensec, ronan-pensec, 2007_tour_de_france

!http://www.active.com/images/newsletters/cyclist/TourdeFrance2007/images/fredrod.jpg|style=padding:10px;|align=left|src=http://www.active.com/images/newsletters/cyclist/TourdeFrance2007/images/fredrod.jpg!Slowly, but surely, the tour is getting harder.

 

Today, everyone knew that the action would start. I made sure to line up at the front, expecting the wind to play a factor in the first 20km. And it was. The peloton was all over the place. Groups split everywhere. It seemed CSC was having a hard time keeping control.

 

Finally, after about 30 minutes of crazy attacks, a group of four guys went off. The peloton seemed content to let them go. We could finally take it easy, but that quickly passed as the break grew to over 11 minutes. Everyone looked around to see who wanted to take the responsibility to chase. It finally came down to Rabobank, Milram and Liquigas, since they had the most to gain by the chase.

 

From that point, the race was on. The course was hilly with lots of small roads, so it would prove to be a hard day. I rode at the front to keep Cadel and myself out of trouble.

 

I was feeling pretty good, but I could tell that my back was still a bit off from the crash.

 

I seemed to be passing most of the stage with little discomfort, other than my left leg starting to load up from the back pain.

 

Because I felt so good, I stayed at the front where it seemed to be the best place to be. Over the top of the second climb, I still felt that I had a good chance.

 

At that point, only Cadel, Horner and I were riding at the front from our team. I gave Cadel a hand to make sure he was protected. I knew that it would take a bit out of me, but felt confident that I had enough to make it over.

 

With about 20 km to go, I saw Vino hit the ground hard and knew that it was not a good time to crash, as the race was really moving now. It was so fast that we needed bottles, but didn't dare drop back in fear of missing a split.

 

We had about 15 km to go when we hit a small non-categorized climb. I was sitting a bit too far back and decided to pass on the outside. Since there wasn’t much room, I took a bit of a risk passing…when, all of a sudden, everyone stopped hard and I found myself off the road.

 

The only thing I could do was try to keep the bike straight up as I hit a bush. Luckily, that broke my fall.  I quickly got up and fixed my bike, but at the speed the group was going, it was a bit too late. Not even Vino could catch back on.

 

After my crash, I did have a chance to get behind Vino as his team made a last effort to catch back on. He looked bad as I sat on his wheel. He was bleeding from everywhere. I knew it would be almost impossible for him to catch. 

 

So that was my day. I rode in easy, a bit disappointed that I was not able to try for a stage win.  I knew I wasn't firing on all cylinders, so I didn't feel too bad about it. I know I still have more to improve.

 

The weather was great today, and we’re entering better parts of France. You could see the vineyards as we passed… not that I had much chance to look around.

Freddie

 

Colombian-born Freddie Rodriguez is a professional American road racing cyclist. He is a three-time US national champion and currently races for team Predictor-Lotto. His nickname, "Fast Freddie", is due to his reputation as a sprint specialist. His Fast Freddie Coffee  , the Fast Freddie Foundation , and his new Team Fast Freddie help to raise funds to support youth cycling in America. Freddie resides in Emeryville, California, USA and Girona, Spain. Freddie is riding this year's Tour and will give us an insider's perspective on life inside the peloton. He welcomes questions and will try to respond during the Tour.

679 Views 2 Comments Permalink Tags: 2007-tour-de-france, fast-freddie-rodriguez, freddie_rodriguez, 2007_tour_de_france

!http://www.active.com/images/newsletters/cyclist/TourdeFrance2007/images/Pensec4150x150.jpg|style=padding:10px;|align=left|src=http://www.active.com/images/newsletters/cyclist/TourdeFrance2007/images/Pensec4150x150.jpg!I didn’t quite enjoy the race today. One more time, we haven’t seen any fights or échappée so I’m a bit disappointed by this stage. I was expecting more from it.

 

I thought riders would start showing their real faces but they didn’t. However, the Astana team showed us that they lack tactic skills as when Vinokourov felt, he didn’t get the support he should have received. He ends up this stage 1 minute, 20 seconds away from the yellow jersey...ouch!

 

I thought that Astana had a real strong team and I must confess that after what we have seen today, I’m no longer betting on them.

 

Something I’ve been thinking about and which is giving hope is that with Vinokourov’s crash, now he will have to struggle and play it offensively if he wants to come back seriously. So I’m hoping to see a great reaction from him, maybe not tomorrow but surely on Saturday with the first real big stage! And we all know that Vinokourov has great offensive skills and he has the real fighter spirit.

 

Finally, I have noticed an important tension between Steegmans and Boonen this morning after what happened yesterday. I think if this tension goes on for some more days, Quickstep may have to deal with internal issues that could compromise their Tour. We will see, but it’s a feeling. You should have seen Boonen’s look toward Steegmans...

 

Anyway, I’ve been thinking about the Team Time Trial today that we're really missing actually after such a classic day. It was such a fantastic concept, with lots of tactics, team spirit and such a nice entertainment for spectators. We will see how the Tour de France will handle this change and if it will be beneficial or not. But I’m missing the good old days today…

 

One thing is for sure now: We need some action right now!

Ronan

 

Ronan Pensec participated in eight Tours, and wore the yellow jersey in the 1990. He now operates Ronan Pensec Events, an official Tour de France operator hosting VIP cycling tours for recreational cycling enthusiasts.

587 Views 1 Comments Permalink Tags: 2007-tour-de-france, ronan_pensec, ronan-pensec, 2007_tour_de_france
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