By Hedwig Kröner in L'Alpe d'Huez
Markus Fothen's eyes were sparkling when he came off the podium in France's famous ski station L'Alpe d'Huez. Once again, the Tour de France rookie had been awarded the white jersey of best young rider, and while he's gotten used to the same procedure every day, the German still was under the impression those 21 extraordinary slopes had given him.
"The spectators were great, running beside me and yelling my name... that was really cool!" the Gerolsteiner rider said. "It was a beautiful stage, except for when it started to rain - the legs were a bit cold then," he dryly commented. "Also on the descent, and then we hit Alpe d'Huez full gas. That's not everybody's cup of tea, nor mine, but it went well, and I'm satisfied with how I ended up."
The 23 year-old lost a little time on 'his' classification, but he had all the reason to cheer as his lead over second-placed Damiano Cunego (Lampre) is still almost seven minutes. "I lost a little bit of my advantage, but I think it will still be enough to be given the white jersey once last time in Paris," concluded Fothen, who is rated as a very promising Grand Tour contender in his native Germany, which is now desperately looking for new cycling stars to keep the sport popular.