Anthony Charteau (Bbox Bouygues Telecom) will take his polka-dot jersey through to Paris.
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Bbox rider will be first Frenchman on Tour podium since 2004
Normally one of the most dogged of domestiques, Anthony Charteau can look forward to becoming the first Frenchman to win one of the Tour's four jerseys since Richard Virenque took the King of the Mountains title in 2004. The Bbox Bouygues Telecom rider may not have wrapped up his own mountains success with the same swagger as Virenque, but his success was a victory for the Tour underdogs, for the riders who rarely feature in the limelight.
"I knew had enough points to take the polka dot jersey when Christophe Moreau was dropped early on the climb of the Tourmalet," said Charteau after stage 17. "I knew then that I just had to finish."
Charteau revealed that he had spent a very nervy rest day, but was buoyed up by his teammates. "They helped me a lot in keeping calm, as did my family who were with me during the rest day."
He thanked his teammates for the support they have given throughout the Pyrenean stages, and particularly during the Tourmalet stage. "The entire team went to the front on the approach to the Col de Marie-Blanque, which was important mentally as we wanted Moreau to see that the whole Bbox team was there and that we really wanted that jersey. We neutralised the pace in the bunch, which enabled the break to stay clear and take the points on the climbs," said Charteau.
Asked for his thoughts about appearing on the Tour podium in Paris on Sunday assuming he can avoid any mishaps, Charteau said, "It will be very special being up there with some great champions. Today I did the last kilometre of the climb on my own - just me with the fans. Everyone was shouting my name and I really appreciated this moment."
Charteau's success plus the stage wins taken by Thomas Voeckler and Pierrick Fédrigo will do Bbox's chances of finding a new sponsor no harm at all. Team boss Jean-René Bernaudeau told Cyclingnews this morning in Pau that he is confident of finding a backer, especially as next year's Tour starts in his team's home Vendée region.