By Brecht Decaluwé in Angoulême
"No, I'm really retiring," Boogerd didn't leave any doubts when asked if he wouldn't consider an extra year after his strong performances in this Tour de France.
He was in low spirits when talking to Cyclingnews after the finish of Stage 18. "I'm disappointed because I had the legs to win today, but so be it," Boogerd said. "It was clear Casar was the strongest...if you can win the sprint from the lead. I guess Axel [Merckx] was probably empty because otherwise, he would've take pulls with Lefevre and he would've gone in the last kilometre. Casar was the deserved winner."
After the departure of Michael Rasmussen, the Rabobank team chose not to leave the race along with the disgraced Dane. Yesterday at the start, "Boogie" drew negative attention when he attacked a so-called fan who was booing the Dutchman. But today, he was noticed in a more positive way thanks to his impressive riding.
The leaders reached an advantage that was sufficient to make Boogerd a real threat for riders in the top-10. "It was very good today, but suddenly, Merckx was only sitting on our wheels because the position of Kirchen [seventh in GC] came into danger, which is understandable.
"So we started riding 33km/h, and that isn't good for me, I prefer a harder race." The Euskaltel team finally started chasing to save the fifth placed spot for Haimar Zubeldia and tenth for Mikel Astarloza.
Boogerd, the sympathetic Amstel Gold Race specialist said he never thought about the general classification. He just went for a third stage win in the Tour de France. "I just went for the victory, not for the GC or whatsoever."
The 35 year-old is retiring at the end of the season, and he explained that he had liked the thought about a victory in the Tour de France in his last year. "That was going through my mind, and I realized that it would make me a legend if I took a victory in my last Tour--my last chance."