Fireworks! French win on Quatorze Juillet

David Moncoutié fulfilled a nation's hopes today when he won on the French national holiday Quatorze...

An interview with David Moncoutie, July 14, 2005

David Moncoutié fulfilled a nation's hopes today when he won on the French national holidayQuatorze Juillet (Bastille Day) celebrating the famous revolution in the late 18th century. The Cofidis rider is sure to enjoy the obligatory fireworks tonight, as he achieved the first French win in this Tour de France. The prospect of victory, and the cheers of his fellow countrymen alongside the road made him stay clear of his chasers all the way into the finish, as Hedwig Kröner reports.

"It's fabulous," the 30 year-old said after his victory, and one could see that he had trouble believing it. "I'm just too happy, too happy!" Moncoutié scored his second stage win in the Tour de France today, the first one being the 12th stage from Saint Flour to Figeac in 2004, which he won under similar conditions.

"I saw that the ascent was fast and that everybody was riding flat out, so I knew that this was the moment to go," he said, describing his final attack on the Cat. 2 Col du Corobin with 37 kilometres to the finish in Digne. "I needed at least 20 seconds at the top, and I knew if I could keep a certain distance before the finish, they would look at each other."

This year, Moncoutié also chose the right day for his attack and satisfied his appetite for more success as he had announced in 2004. "That stage win last year was huge, it was even bigger for me than finishing 13th on GC," he continued. "So I wanted to get that same feeling again this year. The Alps were very difficult for me, but I had this stage in mind, and two others where I could try and go for it. So today I gave it all, I gave all of myself especially in the last kilometres."

In this task, the fact that he knew the parcours helped the Parisian. "I knew the Col Du Corondin, but from the other side. We had climbed it in the Dauphiné so I knew the descent was technical and that my only chance was to attack on the climb. The long false flats down to the finish weren't easy, as there was a headwind, too," Moncoutié explained.

Eight riders were in his pursuit, time trialling collectively, but today's winner was faster. "I'm not a great downhiller, but when you're on your own and there's a Tour stage win in sight... There was a little melted tarmac in the first curves, but then I just went flat out." An impressive performance, also because Moncoutié has not been at his best lately. "I had trouble breathing ever since the Vosges [since stage 8 - ed.], and it wasn't improving in the Alps," he said. "Even this morning, I wasn't too optimistic but then I just tried, even if it wasn't an exceptional day for me. And it paid off!"

The timing of his bid for victory was important, too. "The second week of the Tour is always difficult because you start to get tired, but there's still a long way to go until Paris... But then again, in the second week the peloton relaxes a little and opportunities open up." And he used them... Fortunately, Moncoutié didn't put too much pressure on himself, although knowing that the whole country was waiting for a French success in the Tour. Asked what his thoughts were on the state of French cycling, Moncoutié replied, "It's true that the rhythm in the high mountains is too much for us, so we have to look for other opportunities. In the mountains, they're riding very fast! But Christophe Moreau is riding a great Tour until now, and we have other riders who can go for stage wins."

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