Back to racing ...
• I mentioned before that it is very difficult to be consistent in a race like the Tour de France. And while Alexandre Vinokourov has been up and down all Tour long, I still have to give a shout out to the Astana rider.
He decided not to drop out after a terrible crash during the race's first week and came back to ride an amazing individual time trail, catapulting him to ninth overall. Then, on Sunday, he gave up. For the first time in my career, I saw Vino give up. He looked at one of the TV cameras and waved as if to say "that's it." I wanted to call him Sunday and give him some encouragement, but I figured he had a lot on his mind!
But then, we saw the real Vino on Monday. Despite constant pain in his knees from the crash, he powered back and won Stage 15. You saw the emotion on his face as he crossed the finish line. He wanted this. He showed his true character. I was happy for him and I know the guys in the peloton were happy, as well.
• Another weird feeling for me as I am about to race in my second July event that's not the Tour de France. I am off to the Sachsen Tour, a five-day race in Germany. After our Team CSC training camp in Luxembourg, everyone's morale is high and we're motivated and fit. I am really looking forward to getting my race legs back and test myself, especially in the time trial. It's just a low-pressure race that will help me feel like a bike racer again.