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Tour de France Cycling News for July 30, 2007

Date published:
July 30, 2007, 1:00 BST
  • Green is beautiful for Boonen

    The jersey podium
    Article published:
    July 30, 2007, 1:00 BST
    By:
    Brecht Decaluwé in Paris

    By Brecht Decaluwé in Paris It was uncharacteristic to see Quick.Step Innergetic's Tom Boonen taking...

    By Brecht Decaluwé in Paris

    It was uncharacteristic to see Quick.Step Innergetic's Tom Boonen taking a back seat to the sprint on the Champs Élysées, but with drops of rain beginning to fall and a bigger prize on the horizon, the Belgian decided to be safe and take the green jersey he'd cinched during the stage. He merely kept an eye on his rivals Erik Zabel and Robert Hunter, and followed them in. "I sprinted on safety so I choose their wheel but that way it was impossible for me to win [the stage] of course," Boonen said.

    Just by crossing the line in Paris, Boonen finally achieved the coveted green jersey. "You can't compare it with the Tour of Flanders, the world championship of whatever other race. It's the highest achievable goal for me in a Grand Tour," Boonen explained. "I'm very happy and proud about it," Boonen said at the post-race press conference.

    'Tornado Tom' explained that it was very special for him to finally win the jersey since he has been targeting it for four years. "If you have to fight for it a couple of years it's more beautiful." He went on to explain that the pressure of early success may have doomed his earlier efforts to take the overall points classification. "You can't start in the Tour like I did in 2004 [with two stage wins]. It's not good - like Contador - that you win straight away, you need experience to handle it," Boonen warned the winner of the Tour de France. "Here you get to know yourself better than in any other race."

    After the Belgian went winless in the 2006 Tour de France, there were critics saying he'd lost his speed, but this year, Boonen has shown he was again the sprinter of 2004 and 2005. "I knew that the sensations I had one month before the Tour were fresh and good. That's the way to prepare myself for the Tour: take it easy and stay relaxed," Boonen explained.

    Then the 26 year-old said he would take his form to the lucrative post-Tour...

  • Evans does Australia proud

    Cadel Evans waves
    Article published:
    July 30, 2007, 1:00 BST
    By:
    John Trevorrow in Paris

    By John Trevorrow in Paris Cadel Evans may have just missed snatching a historic win in the Tour de...

    By John Trevorrow in Paris

    Cadel Evans may have just missed snatching a historic win in the Tour de France, but he was magnificent in defeat. Although this is the greatest achievement by an Australian in cycling, there will definitely be a sense of mixed feelings amongst the Australian camp. To step onto to the podium in Paris is a life's dream for any cyclist, but to miss the top step by less than two dozen seconds can add a certain angst to the equation. "I can't quite believe it to be honest," Evans told Cyclingnews after the finish. "For the amount of work I've put in - well, it's going to take a while for it all to sink in."

    One could say that Evans really only lost by three seconds without time bonuses (Contador took 20" with the win on stage 14 and 8" for the third place on stage 16, while Evans took eight seconds bonus on stage nine), making the close call all the more heart-wrenching. Following the time trial, Evans hugged his wife Chiara in a tearful embrace soon after the finish, and it was evident that the three weeks of intense pressure that built to a thrilling climax in the final five kilometres of the time trial bought about a release of raw emotion between the obviously close couple. "I am so happy for him," Chiara said moments before she was wrapped in Cadel's arms. "He rode so great and I am very proud of him. The many messages from Geelong and Barwon Heads have been just fantastic," a beaming Chiara said. "He is going to win it next year."

    Evans was kicking himself over the stage 16 finish, where he relied on the other teams to chase Contador and Rasmussen, but hadn't truly come to terms with his achievement. "I think you may have to talk to me in a week when it really sinks in," he said after the finish in Paris. "My only regret is that I...

  • Doubling up in successful Tour

    The Italian held off Hushovd and Zabel
    Article published:
    July 30, 2007, 1:00 BST
    By:
    Gregor Brown in Paris

    By Gregor Brown in Paris Sprinter Daniele Bennati equalled the success of fellow sprinter Tom Boonen...

    By Gregor Brown in Paris

    Sprinter Daniele Bennati equalled the success of fellow sprinter Tom Boonen in the 2007 Tour de France, adding to his stage 17 victory on the Champs Élysées with an explosive sprint victory in Paris. The 26 year-old Italian from Arezzo blasted clear of Thor Hushovd and Erik Zabel to take a sprinter's "dream win".

    Bennati exudes a quiet and down to earth attitude off the bike, but the former lead-out man of Mario Cipollini unleashed a violent sprint on his competitors on the Tour's final stage. The second win in four days more than made up for a first week spent suffering the effects of a crash, and his persistence certainly paid off, much to the envy of his rivals.

    "I still don't believe that I have won this great sprint. As far as I am concerned, it is a dream," Bennati explained with a calmness that must have belied the excitement in his heart.

    Through the corners out of Rue de Rivoli and onto the Avenue des Champs Élysées the Lampre-Fondital sprinter was left in the best position possible behind Tom Boonen's lead-out man Sébastien Rosseler. The Belgian of Quickstep end early but 'Benna' was able to hold the distance while fading right towards Hushovd and Zabel.

    "I went off the wheel of Rosseler and he had practically taken me to the last metres. It was long and hard for me to conquer. The 200 metres were so long over the cobbles but I had a huge sprint.

    "As soon as I raised my arms I saw the Arc de Triomphe ahead of me, I had goose bumps right away. There were tears... It was the most beautiful win for me. ... These two wins at the Tour are not small."

    His luck changed significantly from his rough first half of the Tour, where he fought hard just to finish in the top three on stages and had to swallow his pride and give up the status of protected sprinter to his team-mate Danilo Napolitano on several occasions. He never gave up home,...

  • Contador delivers ninth Spanish Tour title

    Contador receives the trophy
    Article published:
    July 30, 2007, 1:00 BST
    By:
    Laura Weislo with additional reporting from Brecht Decaluwé

    By Laura Weislo with additional reporting from Brecht Decaluwé Alberto Contador made the 146...

    By Laura Weislo with additional reporting from Brecht Decaluwé

    Alberto Contador made the 146 kilometre journey from Marcoussis to Paris safely on Sunday, winning the 3569.9 kilometre long Tour de France by a wafer-thin margin of 23 seconds over Australian Cadel Evans. With his victory, he adds his name to the history books along with just four other Spanish Tour winners: Federico Bahamontes, Luis Ocaña, Pedro Delgado, and the great Miguel Indurain, and sends the ninth title to Spain.

    Many a Spaniard has tried to live up to the name of Indurain and fallen short, but at his young age, Contador has the talent and ambition to stand up next to 'Big Mig'. The slightly built 24 year-old has a very different style than the powerful five time Tour champion, and came into this Tour not as a team leader, but as a domestique for his American leader Levi Leipheimer and dark horse candidate for victory in Paris.

    "I had not come to the Tour thinking that I could win it. It is true that, after my victory in Paris-Nice last March, I knew that I was able to pull off other beautiful things but it is always very difficult to imagine a scenario like this," Contador admitted following the final parade lap in Paris.

    Contador pulled off a magnificent stage win atop the Plateau de Beille, pulling himself into second overall when he put 1'52 into Evans. After three days of battling with Rabobank's Michael Rasmussen on the climbs in the Pyrénées, he had all but resigned himself to second overall when he trailed the Rasmussen by a virtually insurmountable 3'10 after the final mountain stage. But the winds of fate turned against the Dane, and Contador inherited the yellow jersey when the Dane was withdrawn from the race under a cloud of suspicion that he evaded out of competition controls prior to the Tour.

    Going into the final decisive stage, the 55.5 kilometre...