Monday, July 30, 2007

Stage 20 - Sunday, July 29: Marcoussis - Paris Champs-Élysées, 146km

Alberto Contador on the top step in Paris. That makes 8 out of 9 tours for Trek and the Discovery Channel/Postal Service.
Italian sprinter Daniele Bennati celebrates his second stage victory.
Contador and Hincapie sip champagne on the way to Paris.
Evans, Contador and Leipheimer on the final podium in Paris.
The Discovery Channel squads celebrates their first ever team classification.

Daniele Bennati made the most of the Tour de France by adding a sprinters' dream win on the Champs-Élysées to his first stage win in Castelsarrasin on the final stage of the 2007 Tour de France. 'Benna' took the lead in the sprint early but was able to hold off a strong charge from Thor Hushovd (Crédit Agricole) and Erik Zabel (Milram).
The 26 year-old Italian followed the Quick.Step-Innergetic lead-out train down the Rue de Rivoli to the Avenue des Champs Élysées, and was left in the best position possible behind Tom Boonen's lead-out man Sébastien Rosseler. The Belgian pulled off with 300 metres to go, but Bennati was able to hold his acceleration to distance Hushovd and Zabel. Barloworld's Robert Hunter made an impressive acceleration to take fourth place, salvaging his second in the points classification with the 24 points gained.
"I still don't believe that I have won this great sprint," said Bennati after crossing the line. "As far as I am concerned it is a dream. As soon as I raised my arms I saw the Arc de Triomphe ahead of me, I had goose bumps right away. There were tears... It was the most beautiful win for me.
"It was long and hard for me to conquer. The 200 metres were so long over the cobbles but I had a huge sprint."
Alberto 'Kid' Contador of Discovery Channel enjoyed the cloudy and damp Parisian day riding in the maillot jaune which he easily kept after ending yesterday's time trial with 23 seconds on Cadel Evans (Predictor-Lotto) and 31 seconds on team-mate Levi Leipheimer. The 24 year-old Spaniard rode into Paris without a final challenge from Cadel Evans' Predictor-Lotto team to his small GC advantage; it was a gap that proved enough for him to be crowned king of the world's largest bike race.
"I want to celebrate it and to have parties, then go on holidays, enjoying this first win," commented Contador on the overall win. He came back from a near-death brain clot to capture the greatest cycle race. "I could not image when I was there [in the hospital] that today I would be here with all these people watching me and with these results."
Not only did Contador take home the prize of best overall rider after 3,569.9 kilometres of racing but also he showed he will be around for a few years by winning the maillot blanc of the best young rider. The next best rider was Soler at 16 minutes back. Bruyneel suggested before the Tour started that he should go for the young rider classification but he proved that he was out for more with his response.
"A week before the Tour I scanned the rivals for the Tour's white jersey and sent him an e-mail with names like Gerdemann and Dekker," explained Discovery Team Manager Bruyneel. "He answered, 'I hope my rivals will be Valverde and Evans.'"

Stage 20
1. Daniele Bennati (I), Lampre-Fondital
2. Thor Hushovd (N), Crédit Agricole
3. Erik Zabel (G), Milram
4. Robbie Hunter (RSA), Barloworld
5. Tom Boonen (B), Quick Step-Innergetic

1. Alberto aContador (Sp), Discovery Channel, 91:00:26
2. Cadel Evans (Aus), Predictor-Lotto, at 00:23
3. Levi Leipheimer (USA), Discovery Channel, at 00:31
4. Carlos Sastre (Sp), CSC, at 07:08
5. Haimar Zubeldia (Sp), Euskaltel-Euskadi, at 08:17
1. Tom Boonen (B), Quick Step-Innergetic, 256 pts
2. Robert Hunter (RSA), Barloworld, 234
3. Erik Zabel (G), Milram, 232
4. Thor Hushovd (N), Crédit Agricole, 186
5. Sébastien Chavanel (F), Française des Jeux, 181

1. Juan Mauricio Soler Hernandez (Col), Barloworld, 206 pts
2. Alberto Contador (Sp), Discovery Channel, 128
3. Yaroslav Popovych (Ukr), Discovery Channel, 104
4. Cadel Evans (Aus), Predictor-Lotto, 92
5. Laurent Lefevre (F), Bouygues Telecom, 85

1. Discovery Channel , 273:12:52
2. Caisse d'Epargne, at 19:36
3. CSC, 22:10
4. Rabobank, 36:24
5. Euskaltel-Euskadi, at 46:46

Best young rider
1. Alberto Contador (Sp), Discovery Channel, 91:00:26
2. Mauricio Soler (Col), Barloworld, at 16:51
3. Amets Txurruka (Sp), Euskaltel-Euskadi, at 49:34
4. Bernhard Kohl (A), Gerolsteiner, at 1:13:27
5. Kanstantsin Siutsou (Blr), Barloworld, at 1:15:16

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