Again, young Belgian Wim Van Huffel did an outstanding job yesterday in stage 4 of the Dauphiné Libéré, which finished atop of France's famous 'Bald Giant' Mont Ventoux. The Davitamon rider is steadily improving his form and especially his climbing skills since the Tour de Romandie and the Giro d'Italia, where the 26 year-old arrived only two minutes off the winner Paolo Savoldelli on stage 11 to Zoldo Alto, and finished the Grand Tour 11th overall.
In an interview with Belgian weekly magazine Humo, Van Huffel was asked what he expected from Mont Ventoux: "It will go uphill, right? Maybe it's a real bastard of a climb, one that doesn't suit me. I'm really curious. I want to climb all the big mountains, at least more than once."
On Thursday, Van Huffel tested himself on the mythical mountain in Provence, and found out that he still had a lot to give. With three kilometres to go before the finish, the Belgian was riding solo in front, before being joined by eventual winner Alexandre Vinokourov (T-Mobile) and Jose Gomez Marchante (Saunier Duval). "I'm a bit disappointed," said Van Huffel to Belgian Sporza radio after the stage. "I thought that I would win, I came so close. With 12 kilometres to go, I made my move and got 45 seconds at the most. But two kilometres before the finish, Vinokourov and Gomez came back."
For the new Belgian cycling star, who will miss the Tour de France but will ride the Vuelta a España later this season, it was the first time he had done the Ventoux. "At the beginning of the climb, I thought that it wouldn't suit me," he explained. "But you see, it is a shame that I didn't win with 45 seconds five kilometres from the line!"