By Susan Westemeyer
Team Rabobank had several chances to win Paris-Tours on Sunday, but none of them worked out. Juan Antonio Flecha went the wrong way in his escape attempt and an accident meant Oscar Freire was only third over the line.
Flecha, along with Fabian Cancellara, took off after an escape group with about four kilometres to go, but the Swiss rider went the wrong way on a roundabout and the duo lost its chance. "Juan also indicated that he had used up most of his energy after such a long season," said Directeur Sportif Adri van Houwelingen on the team's website, rabobank.nl. "But, if you can show this in the finale of such a race, I really cannot share that opinion."
Therefore, within the last kilometre it came down to the expected mass finish, with Freire near the front. But he had to hold back twice and just as he was making his move to the front for the win with a hundred metres to go, Predictor Lotto's Robbie McEwen slipped out of his pedals and nudged Freire, who lost his momentum and finished third. However, "Looking at Petacchi's margin, I still do not believe Oscar would have been able to come out victorious," van Houwelingen said.
The directeur sportif was satisfied with the stage, saying, "Winning is obviously the main priority, but you know that everything must go well and that was certainly not the case in this bunch sprint. Oscar certainly could not claim second place, but he is not really too concerned about that."
In the ProTour standings the Spaniard moved up to fifth.