2007: A year in review, Part IV: September - December

Shortest retirement ever?

Shortest retirement ever? (Image credit: AFP)

After the most scandal hit Tour de France since 1998, cycling stumbles its way to the end of the summer, the Vuelta and the World's. Cyclingnews' Ben Atkins looks back at the big races and top news stories in the last year in cycling.

The month of September began with an announcement that Johann Bruyneel – who'd announced his retirement with the disbanding of the Discovery team – would take over the reins at Astana. Surely this must be the shortest retirement in history.

The women's World Cup and ProTour continue with the Grand Prix Plouay/Grand Prix Ouest-France double bill in Britanny. In what are often good races for sprinters, both go to breakaway soloists. Italian Noemi Cantele (Bigla) escapes a small group of favourites to take the win, and Nicole Cooke (Raleigh-Lifeforce-Creation) takes the sprint for second over Cantele's countrywoman Marta Bastianelli (Italian National Team).

Marianne Vos (DSB Bank) – Cooke's only serious challenger in the season-long competition – can only manage seventh, so it looks like the Welshwoman may well have the title sewn up for another year.

Thomas Voeckler (Bouygues Telecom), mindful that he's not done much since his days in yellow at the Tour in 2004, puts in an attack with less than 3km to go and wins by a couple of seconds. Thor Hushovd (Credit Agricole) leads the bunch home, just pipping Danilo Di Luca who takes a few more points to strengthen his hold over the ProTour's white jersey.

The final Grand Tour of the year begins without last year's winner Alexandre Vinokourov, as the Vuelta a España gets going in Vigo, north east Spain. Daniele Bennati (Lampre-Fondital) – who won the previous Grand Tour stage in Paris in July – takes the victory in a Sprint Royale that features most of the world's top fast men.

Read the rest of Part IV here, or begin with Part I.

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