Arvesen's choice

Kurt-Asle Arvesen came within 50 metres of a Tour stage win in Stage 17, but was overhauled by a powerful Paolo Savoldelli just before the line. Arvesen was one of four survivors of the break that went on the final climb of the stage, and had to do a lot of work with Gerrans to get up to Savoldelli and Hinault. Instead of waiting for the final sprint, where he would have been a favourite, he attacked with 1.3 km to go.

"I tried to surprise them with an attack less than one km to go," Arvesen said in his post-stage comments. "Normally that works, but Savoldelli was too strong. I gambled and lost. It was such a bitter moment. It was like going from heaven to hell in 20 meters. I gave it my all. I felt the lactic acid up to my ears. Savoldelli was just too strong.

"I was convinced (Sébastien) Hinault was the strongest in the group, so I wanted to make a long sprint," Arvesen added. "I wanted to take the initiative in the race, rather than just finish third and wonder if I didn't try at all. That's bike racing: 190 riders start and only one wins. It's not like soccer, when 22 start and 11 win. If I think it's a shame to lose out like this? Ah well, that's life, eh?"

Team manager Bjarne Riis backed the decision of his rider: "It was too bad for Arvesen, but that was the best tactic in that situation," Riis was quoted on the CSC website as saying. "It was a nearly perfect day for us. We had a man in the break and for the rest of the team it was almost like a rest day."

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