Second-place Kiefel: “Tour Is Unbelievably Hard, 10 kph Faster than U.S. Races”

Team 7-Eleven's Ron Kiefel looks tired at Tirreno-Adriatico

“I should have been in my 12,” commented a frustrated Ron Kiefel after finishing second in Stage 7 to multiple classics winner Ludo Peeters.

A group of eight with Peeters had gotten away wth 49 km to go on this flat, rain-swept stage, and 18 km later Kiefel continued a counterattack in the company of three others.

Doing the lion’s share of the work, Kiefel was going well enough on the days’ last two third-category climbs to be called a “super climber” by TV commentator and five-time Tour winner Jacque Anquetil. It was Kiefel who motored his group to catch the front breakaway as the 5 km-to-go signboard was passed. At the back of the reunited break, Kiefel rested and looked at a profile map, while Belgian Dirk De Wolf straightened his cap and put on his new-wave LeMond-style sunglasses in anticipation of a victory prime from Oakley.

Unfortunately for the American, Kiefel had brought with him Peeter’s teammate Martin Ducrot. As if well-drilled, Ducrot went to the front as they passed the red kite and pick up the speed so nobody could get away. With such expert help, Peeters’ win looked almost staged.

Team 7-Eleven's Ron Kiefel looks tired at Tirreno-Adriatico
Ron Kiefel, adjusting to Euro distance and speed during Tirreno-Adriatico

“This is the first day I’ve been able to even get to the front of the pack,” explained tired-looking Kiefel. “It takes awhile to get in the race, and only now has my circulation and digestive system got used to this — you have to have the gas to go. It’s unbelievable how hard this is. There’s no comparison with the Giro. I look down at my Avocet meter the last half hour of racing and we’re going consistently 60 kph — that’s 10 kph faster than the States.”

Asked about the spring, Kiefel responded, “I was tired from my chase efforts. I should have been in my 12, but I would probably have been too tired to turn it. Besides Peeters was led out too well by Ducrot.”

Today’s GC ranking:

1. Pederson 28:48:36
2. Van der Velde :11
3. Bontempi :27
4. Fignon :45
5. Gaigne :50
32. SteveBauer 2:50
35. Greg LeMond 2:58
44. Andy Hampsten
81. Ron Kiefel 4:52
91. Alex Stieda 5:33
101. Eric Heiden 5:59
110. Davis Phinney 6:11
133. Bob Roll 6:28
144. Jeff Pierce 6:36
152. Chris Carmichael 6:11
156. Doug Shapiro 6:52
182. Alexi Grewal 12:23

Liggett mistakes Kiefel for Phinney in the final sprint. Press play in the viewer to watch the last minute of footage from today’s stage.

A word from our sponsors:

The photograph of Ron Kiefel adapted from Team 7-Eleven by Geoff Drake with Jim Ochowicz. For more on Kiefel’s early — and critically important — successes in European racing, please find the book in your local bookstore, bike shop, or online.

We hope you’ve enjoyed this passage from Slaying the Badger by Richard Moore!

During the 2012 Tour de France, VeloPress traveled back through time to replay the 1986 Tour de France one stage at a time. Each morning of the 2012 Tour, VeloPress published a “stage report” with results from the 1986 Tour, which were passages from Richard Moore’s award-winning book Slaying the Badger and supplemented with articles and advertisements from the archives of Velo-news magazine and with race videos from YouTube. VeloPress is pleased to archive these passages from Slaying the Badger, which is an incomparably detailed and highly revealing tale of cycling’s most extraordinary rivalry between the young American Greg LeMond and his teammate, the legendary French rider Bernard Hinault.