Don't miss a moment from Paris-Roubaix and Unbound Gravel, to the Giro d’Italia, Tour de France, Vuelta a España, and everything in between when you join Outside+.
By Magnus Bäckstedt, Liquigas-Bianchi professional cycling team
So, here we are again.
The Tour kicked off yesterday with what would normally be a perfect time-trial course for a guy like me: a pan-flat, straight shot to the finish line. But it takes me a few days to “find my legs” in a big tour, and I had what you could only call a day that wasn’t all that bad, but wasn’t all that great either.
It’s difficult for me, usually, the first few days. You spend so much time getting ready, training like mad, and then you have a couple of days that throw you off a bit, with travel, medical controls, the presentation and all. It’s tough to get back into the swing of things right away.
Jan Ullrich also had a bit of a rough start. To be sure, it was a dramatic moment when he was caught and passed to lose a full minute, but you have to figure that the crash he had took something out of him. He hit the rear windscreen of his team car at something like 60kph. You can’t expect him to be riding at the top of his form right after that. Of course, none of that takes anything away from the awesome ride Lance had. I would have to say that it looks like he’s more ready for this one than he’s ever been.
Today was the start of the mad scramble of the sprinters’ stages. As usual, the whole peloton is a bit on edge. The sprinters want to get a stage and the GC riders just want to be sure they don’t lose any time. While this year is different because the time trialists had a go at the jersey, and CSC has it with Lance right up there behind Zabriskie, I was a little surprised not to see more aggression out of QuickStep. With time bonuses and maybe even an attack late in the stage, Boonen – who really isn’t that far down on GC – could make a run at grabbing the yellow jersey, making a bit of progress today and then maybe grabbing it in a day or two. We didn’t see that today.
I was a little concerned about the run into the finish today, with narrow streets and a few dangerous turns near the end, but it worked out well. I know there were a few crashes here and there, but for the most part, it was pretty safe. From my point of view at least, it was a pretty good stage of the Tour.
I felt pretty good on the bike today. We tried as a team to get to the front and set things up for (Luciano) Pagliarini. I think we opened it up a little too early, as we came into town and left me up front with almost a whole kilometer to go. That was just too far. I mean even if I can normally take a pull like that for 700 or 800 meters, it just can’t work at the Tour, not with everyone going at it like that in the first mass sprint.
Looking ahead, I know tomorrow’s another day for the sprinters. I am going to be looking around and trying to get into a break here and there this week. Especially the day after the team time trial, there is a good opportunity there. We’ll see.
Keep checking in and I’ll try to write tomorrow.