Jan 9 2010
While I could do without the music, and the grainy VHS-to-flash video quality, this Team 7-Eleven classic is definitely worth watch. It’s not often a 10-day stage race comes down to an intermediate sprint…
You’ve got to wonder at the behind-the-scenes machinations preceding this final stage. It strains credulity that Panasonic, after 10 days of racing, and shattering the field up the final climb the day before, could have controlled the entire peloton with their legs alone, before putting an all-rounder like Winnen in prime position to win the sprint.
7-Eleven, on the other hand, even after two years in the European peloton, probably didn’t have a lot in the way of leverage. Certainly, the team meeting gives an impression of isolation, with no mention of strategy beyond “stay close to Andy and don’t take any guff”.
Hampsten was indeed well-defended; you can see his yellow jersey about 15 riders back in the final bend before the sprint. But Ron Kiefel—who likes his victories improbable—was 7-Eleven’s point man on the day, trying to take the 10-second bonus from the Dutchman “If I’m in position”.
If I ever meet Kiefel, I’ll ask about the battle it took to find Winnen’s wheel coming into the line.