Vanendert enjoys first Tour de France stage win

Belgian capitalises on GC stalemate

First time Tour de France stage winner Jelle Vanendert put his scintillating form down to perfect race preparation, but insisted his performance on stage 14 was not extraordinary and benefited from the stalemate between the overall race contenders.

After soloing away to his first professional victory on the 15.8km climb to Plateau de Beille in the Pyrenees, the 26-year-old Omega Pharma-Lotto rider was ushered away to the stage podium and then the post-race press conference. There he was asked about his preparation for the Tour in which he has protected Philippe Gilbert during the first week and has ridden to two top finishes in the high mountains.

"After the Classics I had an opportunity to take some rest and then I had training sessions in Italy and I came back at the Dauphine," he said. "In fact I'm in perfect condition for the Tour and I thank the team for giving me the opportunity.

"The favourites had attacked several times before, especially Andy Schleck, and I thought that the favourites could do nothing more and they wanted to stay in control because they were aiming at the GC, which was not my case. Of course it was also better to be in the lead rather than have to chase every time somebody attacked."

A journalist asked: "Your team owner Marc Coucke has said when he sees an extraordinary performance in cycling I don't think there is a new champion, I think wow, a new pill. Can you tell us why this is the wrong way to look at cycling?

After a pause, Vanendert replied: "Difficult question. I don't consider what I did today a really great performance. What we saw today has been repeated in the past. For example in the Classics riders went 10km or more in the lead. And also today it was easier because the favourites were really watching each other so that's why they let me go. Maybe if I was a pretender for the classification they wouldn't let me do that and that's why the rhythm was not so high."

Vanendert finished 21 seconds ahead of Samuel Sanchez and secured the king of the mountains jersey by two points from the Spaniard.

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