July 15, 2005: McDonalds and more mountains

Index to all entries

Hi to all my diary readers at Cyclingnews,

I'm catching up after a few crazy days with a double diary for you guys. Maybe you saw me in the break on Friday. I wanted to go to McDonalds after dinner on Friday night to have a Big Mac, fries and a shake, but since we're staying outside Montpellier at a nice gold resort and the hotel has a special Italian chef, so it didn't happen. After being in the break for 170km Friday, I'm not that tired. I thought I would be more wrecked from it, but we'll see Saturday when we hit the Pyrenees. It was hot Friday, but I'm used to the heat and it was pretty dry heat too. The weather was exactly like the weather where I train in California.

Flecha was the guy that started the move Friday, not Da Cruz like people said. I just followed him and we were away. Actually my job Friday was to take the whole day off, to go easy and relax and recover and save my legs for the Pyrenees, but we needed somebody in the move so I went ahead and followed it and I was in the break! The two guys who really rode hard in our break were Voeckler and Turpin; they were really motivated.

At first, we rotated really fast to get the break established and once we had our gap, we started doing ten or fifteen second pulls at the front. After about the fifty kilometre mark, all of a sudden Da Cruz decides that he doesn't want to go 50k an hour any more. Every time he comes to the front, he's going 43! So the other French guys were chewing him out and it turned out he thought we should go slower so the peloton wouldn't chase.

As soon as we slowed down, the chase started and the gap started coming down fast. So I kept wondering when Da Cruz is going to figure out that if we don't start riding, we're going to get caught. So when he finally figured it out, he was the first guy to attack the break! He did the least amount of work, he took the shortest, easiest, slowest pulls of the whole break and was the first to attack. I wasn't real happy with that and I don't think the other guys were either. Being in the break was actually easy when we were all working together and going at 50k. I was pulling as much as Flecha, but Voeckler and Turpin were throwing everything into it; they were the guys that kept us out there for so long,

As we got close to Montpellier, we knew the pack was getting closer. Then Chavanel came by and we caught him. Then he went again and Flecha followed him and I went between him and the barriers on the left and made a huge effort to get across to him. When I got across to Chavanel and he attacked me three times to try and get rid of me, so finally I told him if he did it again, I wasn't going to take a pull. So then we were really smooth all the way to the finish line. In order for me to win the stage, I had to sit on him, so in the last kilometre I just sat back. I knew if I came through with 800 meters to go, that would mean I was leading it out.I wouldn't come through, he wouldn't pull me to the finish, so we got caught!

But I wasn't disappointed at all how it turned out; it all came down to tactics. We were both racing for the win and neither of us were going to settle for second. That's just the way it happens. I was really glad to finally be able to be at the Tour De France and do something on a stage.

Further on down the road

Both of the weekend days in the Pyrenees are really hard. I don't know what will happen then, but ideally I will try to get in a break again on either day. With the mountains so hard, it really boils down to what Discovery wants to do. If they want to allow a group to go up the road and get some time, and not have to ride as hard, that's one thing. But if Lance is looking to want to take a stage, like on Sunday to Pla d'Adet, it will be hard to stay ahead.

Polka dot jersey guy Michael Rasmussen is climbing extremely well, he looks like it's so easy. So especially with Valverde dopping out, Rasmussen could be the only rider at this moment that could give Armstrong any kind of problems in the mountains. That's if he's willing to risk his GC position. Is Rasmussen willing to race for the win or is he happy with second? I'm curious to find out if he's looking to put time into riders like Basso and Ullrich so he doesn't lose time on GC, or if he wants to attack Lance and go for the win.

Thanks for reading,

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From being the USA's top domestic rider for several years to riding for a ProTour team in the Tour de France, Chris Horner is always on the up. A talented all-rounder, Chris had a bad start to 2005 after breaking his leg in Tirreno-Adriatico, but has since then found form again, with an excellent stage win in one of the toughest stages of the Tour de Suisse. That sealed the deal for him to gain a spot on the Saunier Duval-Prodir team for the Tour de France, and Horner is determined to make the most of it. Always ambitious and unafraid to speak his mind, Horner wants to finish top 10 on GC in this year's Tour, and failing that, at least have a decent crack at a stage win. He'll detail his progress in this special diary for Cyclingnews during the Tour. Australia UK USA