Daniele Bennati wins on the Champs Elysees

29th July 2007, Comments 0 comments

PARIS, July 29, 2007 (AFP) - Italian Daniele Bennati won the 20th and final stage of the Tour de France here Sunday, but was left to regret that his wife missed seeing the most famous victory of his career.

PARIS, July 29, 2007 (AFP) - Italian Daniele Bennati won the 20th and final stage of the Tour de France here Sunday, but was left to regret that his wife missed seeing the most famous victory of his career.

Bennati launched an unassailable drive for the finish line of the 146km long 20th stage from Marcoussis to here, holding off Thor Hushovd to deprive the Norwegian of a second consecutive victory on the Champs Elysees.

Germany's Erik Zabel came third ahead of South African Robert Hunter and Belgian Tom Boonen.

Boonen's fifth place was enough for him to secure the race's green jersey for the points classification, succeeding Australian Robbie McEwen who left the race in the eighth stage in the Alps after finishing outside the stage time limit.

Bennati meanwhile was overjoyed having coming into the race with the dream of winning just one stage, which he achieved when he won the 17th stage to Castelsarrasin.

But he was sorry that his wife, who got entangled in the crowds as she made her way to the finish line, will have to watch the repeats of his victory on television.

"I can't believe I've won here," said the Italian one-day specialist.

"I came here to win a stage and now I'm going home with two, and the most prestigious one on the Champs Elysees.

"I'm not even a real sprinter, I like to get into breakaways. In the past I've had a lot of injury problems. My success here is the fruit of my patience, and hard work."

He added: "The only regret I've got is that my wife, the most important person in the world to me, didn't see me winning.

"She got caught up in the crowds about one kilometre from the finish line, but I'm sure she'll be watching it on television."

Hushovd, whose bid for the green jersey had been compromised by a crash earlier in the race, said Bennati's long drive for the line had caught him flat.

"It's a pity, I was well positioned but I just couldn't get past Bennati in the closing metres," said the Norwegian.

"I'm happy because I wasn't too far away, but I really wanted to win this stage. I suffered in the Alps and the Pyrenees just to make sure I got here today.

"Never mind, I will be back next year."

Boonen was forced to abandon his last two Tour campaigns, but came to the race this year determined to make up for those setbacks.

He admitted however that the finale to Sunday's stage, after he too suffered in the difficult mountains stages, had pushed his stress levels into the red.

"The legs were fine today, but the stress of racing around the Champs Elysees trying to hold on to the green jersey has taken it out of me," he said.

"All the sprints I did during the Tour I did to win, but today was all about protecting the green jersey. It's taken it out of me and I'm glad it's over, but I'm super-happy."


AFP

Subject: French news

0 Comments To This Article