Liberated Pozzato overjoyed with winClose
Deprived of Alessandro Petacchi, Fassa Bortolo's riders have been given freedom to roam, as ably shoFilippo Pozzato of Fassa Bortolo was an overjoyed winner of stage seven in St Brieuc this afternoon at the climax of a frenetic finale which saw a spate of attacks from tireless escapees such as Paolo Bettini, Laurent Brochard, Thos Hushovd and, unusually for such a finale, Francisco Mancebo and Ikor Flores. Once 23-year-old Pozzato had broken free of the stranglehold of the chasing bunch, with only Mancebo and Flores for company, the outcome - particularly on an uphill finish such as today's - was a formality. "Since Petacchi quit," the rider known universally as 'Pippo' explained, "we have all been given the freedom to try to win so the team's tactics have really changed. With him we were assured to win at least one stage but now we have decided that we all have the chance to try to go for stage wins. "Today we tried to get into all the breaks but it wasn't easy and I was lucky that I chose the best one," the Italian, whose good looks have sent a few female hearts a-fluttering in the Tour press room, continued. "I knew to try about five or six kilometres from the finish - it worked and I'm thrilled. At the end, I don't know if Bettini let me go or if he was tired but it was good to see that one Italian didn't try to catch another one." Pozzato, already a winner this year of the Italian Laigueglia Trophy and winner last year of spring stage race Tirreno-Adriatico, acknowledged that his career wins to date had put him at the forefront of a new generation that had made its mark with stage wins this past week from Quick Step's Tom Boonen, his Fassa team-mate Fabian Cancellara and, today in Brittany, his own. "There is a new generation," he agreed. "Even last year we were winning, but at smaller races, not on the same level as the Tour. This year, with Damiano Cunego at the Giro, Boonen in the spring and here, and Cancellara in the prologue, the new generation has arrived. But the old champions are still there and we will take two or three years to take their place." Across the finish line, race leader Thomas Voeckler was recounting his second day in the Tour's maillot jaune and recalling how he and his team had prepared for the CSC team's onslaught in the latter half of the stage, as the race sped along the Breton coastline, at Cap Frehel. "I wasn't worried about the final 50 kilometres," the Brioches la Boulangre rider maintained. "We knew that the finale would be very difficult with the wind and rain so we knew what to expect. I wasn't very good on the last climb so I had to fight to get to the front - my team had worked hard and I knew I had no right to be lagging behind. But I managed to get back up there again." "It was a stressful day," admitted Voeckler, "but it was the same for all the bunch. The wind and the speed made it hard near the end. Everybody was encouraging me and that was a great feeling, especially here in Brittany, because when I first started racing I was always racing here, so I know the region well. But it's hard to explain how it feels to wear the maillot jaune - I just want to enjoy every moment of wearing it," the Frenchman said.