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By Gregor Brown in Paris Despite missing out on a Tour de France victory by less than a minute two...
By Gregor Brown in Paris
Despite missing out on a Tour de France victory by less than a minute two years in a row, Silence-Lotto's directeur sportif Hendrik Redant took part in the festive environment around the Silence-Lotto team bus following the final stage in Paris.
"We wanted the win, but we still have second place and that is not a shame," Redant said to Cyclingnews as he drank champagne.
He helped Australia's Evans over the three weeks to obtain a second overall and the race leader's maillot jaune for two days. The overall lead of CSC-Saxo Bank's Carlos Sastre was out of reach for Evans' during yesterday's time trial in Saint Amand Montrond.
"The high point was taking the yellow jersey. The low point was the time trial – we could have won the Tour de France and it did not happen. We have been working very hard for four years and intensively this year towards victory in the Tour. We did not make it so it is a disappointment, but it is happy for being second – that is why I am having one glass of champagne," said Redant.
Even in second place, the sponsors and Cadel Evans himself are happy to have made the podium in Paris. "We had the yellow jersey – our goal was to have in Paris. We all believed in yesterday, but it did not happen."
Evans himself decided to focus on the positives he can take away from the Tour. "To wear the yellow jersey after such a selective week of racing was really something special and it was an experience that I think every bike rider wants to have," he said. "I've never worn a world championship jersey but it was quite incredible to be in yellow. It's a good experience and I've learned things that will stand me in good stead for future Tours.
"To come back and finish second and be able to hold off the rider in third... that's something I'm happy with. And I'm pleased that I was able to continue after the crash. To come back and get yellow was a bonus. There's always room for improvement otherwise I might have walked away feeling content with eighth place but I've done a lot in the last four years to improve on that result."
CSC-Saxo's depth out-gunned Silence-Lotto as well as every other team in the Tour. Budget permitting, Redant would like to see the Belgium-based team strengthened for 2009 by adding more mountain domestiques.
"We knew we would have a hard time, but I think the team did not make any mistakes. We used our boys where we could use them and we did not use them where we couldn't, so in a way that was perfect. We were racing against some very strong teams.
"We did not bring men for McEwen this year, but maybe we need to reinforce with more climbers who can handle climbs like Col du Tourmalet and Alpe d'Huez. Popovych was not on his best form, Cioni and Brandt got sick. Popovych had a few good days, but all the rest he was average."