Robert Förster, the designated sprinter for Gerolsteiner, who has won stages in the Giro d'Italia, including the final stage into Milano last year, gave some details on his diary at radsportnews.com about how a sprinter sees a Tour de France mountain stage. And it doesn't look too good. Förster said that it went uphill at kilometre 0, which is why he came to the start 10 minutes early, so he could be in row 1, and not already have to start at the back.
"It was the calm before the storm, as the orange jerseys [from Euskaltel] were all around me." "Frösi" started to get nervous when even Thor Hushovd passed him. He did get help from team-mate Stefan Schumacher, who had crashed while in a break and was in the process of moving back into the peloton.
Förster isn't too impressed with the streets in the mountains between France and Spain , stating that "in the Alps at least the bike rolls along, even uphill, but here on those bad streets in the Pyrénées I have got the feeling I am not even going forward."
The valley before the final climb wasn't much to his taste, either. "Spaniards up front and Spaniards making the pace behind. And the road goes up three percent." At least he did make it into the gruppetto, even though "I came from behind; it is better to get into it from the front." And the calculations worked out. "We thought we would be about 37 minutes behind, but it ended up being 34 minutes in the end."
. Förster acknowledged that usually it is fun to have the fans along side the road, "and that was the most we had so far in the Tour," but also said when he's suffering like this the fans can't provide much relief. "All I wanted was to die peacefully."