Sunday, July 29, 2007
Stage 20: Marcoussis to Paris Champs-Élysées
In Lanterne Rouge news, ". . . Lilian Jegou, of Française des Jeux, states: 'You have more sporting credibility if you are at the back of the race.' To celebrate this new phenomenon, the paper Liberation announces that it is now supporting only the lanterne rouge, as the last rider in the race is nicknamed, after the red lantern that hangs on the back of a train. In the old days, cyclists in contention for this position would 'race' to lose time, without actually losing so much that they had to leave the race, because there was a certain notoriety - and lucrative appearance contracts - for the last man to finish the Tour. Acting no doubt on the biblical principle that the last shall be first and the first shall be last (in terms of credibility), Libe exhorts the current incumbent, the Belgian domestique Wim Vansevenant, to 'go slower!'"
After the Moreni incident, personally I'm not convinced that the unranked pro cyclists are any more or less likely to dope than the ones who have gained a few UCI points this year. The pressure to perform is there for every pro cyclist -- to move up in the rankings, ride faster, recover faster, hang with the peloton and not get dropped -- whether winning races or supporting their team leader. The leaders are just more likely to be drug-tested after they win races. For myself, I simply like to follow the back-of-the-packers because they all have interesting personal stories and the media is saturated with stories only of the leaders.
A bad translation of a brief piece on the Liberation site: "Wim fulfills its role: "Domestic." Man of the shade, it leaves the sun with the others. "My wife is a hairdresser. She says: There is much respect for you, always suffering when the others already arrived "After twenty years of career, the Belgian will hang up again the next year, at 37 years. "I am content with my career. Now, it is time for the young people.""
Elsewhere. . . . I just stumbled upon a fabulous French-language archive of Tour de France records. I've been filling out the past Lanternes Rouges in the right sidebar and will continue when time permits.
Rose Cantine reports on a TV interview with Lanterne Rouge Wim Vansevenant, which seems to imply his finish position this year was indeed deliberate. But don't worry, Wim, we will remember you!
Details of the (probably) anticlimactic final stage 20 to follow later. I haven't heard of any riders leaving the Tour in stages 18, 19, or 20.
And it was a traditional bunch sprint from the peloton to finish this crazy Tour! No changes in most of the lineup, and even though Thor Hushovd was 2nd in the stage he didn't change his placement. It was nice to see that Tom Boonen was able to finally withstand the onslaught of mountain fever that has taken him out of the Tour in previous years in order to collect his green jersey.
Seven riders gained more than a minute in the final stage:
135. HINAULT Sébastien 108 CREDIT AGRICOLE 3h 52' 09" + 01' 06"
136. CHEULA Gianpaolo 213 BARLOWORLD 3h 52' 15" + 01' 12"
137. FISCHER Murilo Antoniobil 155 LIQUIGAS 3h 52' 15" + 01' 12"
138. BALLAN Alessandro 81 LAMPRE-FONDITAL 3h 52' 15" + 01' 12"
139. EFIMKIN Alexander 211 BARLOWORLD 3h 52' 15" + 01' 12"
140. CHARTEAU Anthony 104 CREDIT AGRICOLE 3h 52' 37" + 01' 34"
141. VOECKLER Thomas 129 BOUYGUES TELECOM 3h 55' 11" + 04' 08"
the final rider over the finish line in the final stage of the Tour.
Which leaves the final five in the General Classification of the 2007 Tour de France unchanged from yesterday (apologies for messed-up spacing courtesy of Blogger). Our CONGRATULATIONS to each one of them for surviving a tough Tour de France!
137. KRAUSS Sven (Germany) 96 GEROLSTEINER 94h 41' 17" + 3h 40' 51"
138. STEEGMANS Gert (Belgium) 176 QUICK STEP - INNERGETIC 94h 42' 04" + 3h 41' 38"
139. HUSHOVD Thor (Norway) 101 CREDIT AGRICOLE 94h 42' 23" + 3h 41' 57"
140. THOMAS Geraint (Wales) 215 BARLOWORLD 94h 47' 17" + 3h 46' 51"
"Everyone dreams of riding down the Champs-Elysee and finishing the Tour, I'm happy to get here but feeling it," the Cardiff rider told the BBC. "I was always going to go as far as I could. I couldn't see the point in going home after a few days, it was always in my mind to try to finish and it's awesome to be at the end."
and for the second consecutive time as the Lanterne Rouge of the Tour de France, we conclude with:
141. VANSEVENANT Wim (Belgium) 49 PREDICTOR - LOTTO 94h 53' 20" + 3h 52' 54"