On 14th July the French celebrate Bastille Day and this means a great deal to them. There were thousands of people at the start, who wanted to cheer on Thomas Voeckler and celebrate his lead in the race. He is currently wearing the yellow jersey and has succeeded in defending it on this very first tough day of the Tour in the Pyrenees. I couldn’t really believe that after just 4 kilometers the 6-man leading group was already formed because for all French riders Bastille Day is something really important. In my very first Tour de France it took well over an hour until a breakaway group was able to escape from the main field.
Generally, on nearly all stages there wasn’t much resistance when a breakaway group formed. For two days now it had taken longer until somebody had got away from the peloton. In my eyes, this is above all because the riders have been saving there reserves of strength much better. Nobody just makes crazy attacks any more, but considers carefully when he should put the hammer down. This also changes the tactical decisions that are made and also the course of an entire race. When talking to Jens Voigt he told me he was sure that Thomas Voeckler wouldn’t defend his leader’s jersey, to which I replied that I was sure he would.
The entire range of ability in the field of riders is much closer together than it used to be. This is even the case among the top riders in the peloton. There just isn’t anyone who can totally dominate everybody else any more.
Today, our Omega Pharma-Lotto rider Jelle Vanendert produced an excellent performance in today’s race. Finishing second on such a tough mountain stage is worthy of great respect.
Despite the exertions of the “Col du Tourmalet” I personally enjoyed the stage. I’ll never climb this mountain in the saddle again and with so many spectators watching. During the stage I thought of a film which I can strongly recommend to you all. “Phantom Pain” is a film about cycling and the myth of the mountain.
Sporting greetings from Seb