When one hears over the Radio Shack airwaves, “Go on Lance, go for it, this is the last big climb in your career”, I’ll unfortunately no longer be up there were the action is. I then find out everything that’s happened on the stage from one of Lance Armstrong’s colleagues.
It was the last climb of this year’s Tour de France. After the rest day yesterday today was the last stage in the Pyrenees with a mountain top finish on the Col du Tourmalet. This stage finishes 2115 metres above sea level and we once again rode a good race as a team. Jurgen VDB in particular battled on until the finish line and really gritted his teeth. He was therefore able to defend his 5th place in the general classification.
An unbelievably large number of fans crowded the roadsides for all the mountain stages. However, today on the Col du Tourmalet all hell broke loose. When you have to ride through the really narrow gap between the screaming masses you do feel somewhat different. Now and again you get goose pimples because the experience is so emotional. On the few occasions when people start screaming out your name you do feel really great. It’s really great that despite all the discussions surrounding the sport there are still sufficient people who can see the difference between black and white. This makes it clear to me that it’s worth carrying on because there are enough people out there who don’t take any notice of what’s said or written in the media. There are many people who can form their own opinions and don’t need the media for that.
It was a very difficult day’s work for me and the moment I’m forcing the pace at the front of the field it’s just as emotional as a ride through the crowds in the mountains. Photographers capture such moments on film, camera teams send these pictures around the world and reporters report live on the race action. A good friend of mine recently wrote to me to tell me how great it was for him to watch me suffering live on T.V. But seriously, thanks to all my friends back home I am motivated to overcome my weaker self day in day out and am really happy when they get to see my face even though it looks somewhat disfigured at times!
Tomorrow I’m hoping for a typical stage with a sprint finish so I can simply coast along in the main bunch. There are just three days left and then my 6th Tour will be over, but perhaps it won’t be my last.
See you tomorrow, Seb