Recently on Cyclingnews.com

Mt Hood Classic
Photo ©: Swift

Diary of a domestique - Wilfried Cretksens at the Tour

(Click for larger image)
Wilfried Cretskens

Quick.Step-Innergetic's Wilfried Cretksens is one of the team's key domestiques for not just the Tour de France, but many other races. It's his job to bring back breakaways after they've gained many minutes, involving hours of hard labour. The reward? A victory by one of his teammates, most likely Tom Boonen.

Index to all entries

July 9, 2006: A special week, but not easy

Cretskens and De Jongh
Photo ©: Elmar Krings
(Click for larger image)

Not everything is exciting in the Tour de France, as my grandmother died two days ago. It wasn't unexpected, but of course it's always hard to be faced with.

Meanwhile, we're past the first week of this Tour and it was a special week. Tom Boonen captured yellow and green, but didn't win a stage so far. I enjoyed a week where I was working hard in front of the peloton to defend the yellow jersey. We'll keep trying to win a stage, but it isn't at all easy.

Last year, during my first Tour de France, we captured two stage wins with Boonen. This year, without Armstrong, the sporting challenge and the excitement is still the same. In our team of course Tom Boonen is the big star. We're not in Belgium, but I noticed that he's popularity is enormous everywhere, even outside Belgium. I heard from my own supporters that everybody's wishing that he could win a stage. People do have to acknowledge that we're no supermen. We can't afford ourselves to make any mistake, because otherwise a stage win isn't possible. The press isn't helping us in our search for a win. There was a small press boycott, but that's something we don't ask for, the team staff decides on those matters.

The time trial yesterday is a discipline in the Tour which I need to overcome as economically as possible. I think it worked out well as I finished safely within the time limit of 25%, as 143rd at 7'31" from Serguei Gonchar. It was a very exciting time trial where lots of riders battled hard to get a good result. Some riders had a bad day of course, but that's sport. Gonchar was a strong and deserved winner, but I don't have much contact with the Ukrainian rider.

The Quick.Step train
Photo ©: AFP
(Click for larger image)

Tomorrow is a rest day where I hope to be able to sleep a lot. My room mate is Bram 'the tank', our Dutch work horse; he sleeps very deeply so I don't have to be afraid of waking up too early. Afterwards I'll enjoy some breakfast and a good massage. The rest of the day we need to rest as much as possible. Meanwhile, I'll try to celebrate my birthday enjoying some coffee and cake with the team mates. Of course it's bitter to celebrate after what happened in the family.

Coming up within a few days are the Pyrenees and as you might expect, mountains are not my cup of tea. I'm not looking forward to them, although sometimes it's quite easy to be at the finish within time. But on other days, I'm suffering really hard. I don't need to work in those stages, only at the start we make sure that our climbers Rujano and Garate, are in the front of the peloton. Then, we ‘just' need to finish within the time limits. At the back I might sometimes take the lead in the ‘bus', as a guide; although it depends on how I'm feeling of course. The guide is often someone else, but Tom Boonen did it also in the past. That's it for now, hopefully we meet again talking about a stage win of Tom Boonen!