Sun shines on Botero again

After two seasons in the wilderness, Phonak's Santiago Botero is back to his best, with Saturday's s

After two seasons in the wilderness, Phonak's Santiago Botero is back to his best, with Saturday's s
PIC BY TDWSPORT.COM Santiago Botero seems to have timed his form perfectly for the Dauphin Libr. On Wednesday he won the time trial and on Saturday's stage to Morzine he booked another stage win when he dropped fellow escapee David Moncouti on the downhill from Col de Joux-Plane with only a couple of kilometres left to the finish line, writes Susanne Horsdal. "I knew from earlier situations that Moncouti's always a little nervous on the downhill," explained Botero, who realised that he wouldn't be able to do it on the ascent of the last brutal climb of the stage. "I'm a steady climber, not an aggressive one," said the Phonak rider who used his speciality - to attack from far away - to move him into a winning situation. At the foot of the Croix-Fry, 62 kilometres into the 155-kilometre-long stage, Botero took off from the bunch with nine other riders to chase a leading group of seven. In the beginning of the fourth and last climb of the day, the Joux-Plane, Botero's group caught the leaders. About three kilometres later he went off with Moncouti. Together they caught Jose Gutierrez in the front and from there took the lead that would last to the finish. With his victory, Botero moved from eigth to second place on the general classification and had he been a little more attentive in Friday's stage, in which Inigo Landaluze took the leader's jersey after a long breakaway, the Colombian would now have been in yellow. "It was an error to let that breakaway go. We should have had someone in it or helped Gerolsteiner earlier (Levi Leipheimer lost the yellow jersey because of the breakaway). But we thought that Landaluze would crack today. Now we know he's strong. He's surprised us," admitted Botero. He does have one day left to pull the yellow jersey off Landaluze's back, but in a stage significantly easier than the very demanding mountain stage to Morzine. Still Botero has plenty to cheer following two lacklustre years at Telekom. "It's a prize for me to win the hardest mountain stage after two bad years. But I never lost faith. I knew I'd come back strong some day," said Botero, who explained his unfortunate stay with the German team as bad luck. "It was physical with me. I had stomach problems. The team did nothing wrong. They're one of the best teams in the world," Botero said. During his difficult two years, he experimented with how long to stay at home in Colombia in the off-season before returning to Europe to race. This year he decided to return in April. "I'm very Latino. I like to be at home and above all I hate the winters in Europe. I don't like to train in the rain and the cold," said the blue-eyed, blond Botero, in a week when the sun has literally and metaphorically been shining on him. Now he can only hope it stays that way in the Tour in which he aims for a place in the GC top ten, a stage win and for the Phonak team to take the team time trial. Stage six: Albertville - Morzine 1 Santiago Botero (Col) Phonak 155km in 4.30.54 (34.33 kph) 2 David Moncoutie (Fra) Cofidis 0.23 3 Francisco Mancebo (Spa) Illes Balears 0.53 4 Christophe Moreau (Fra) Credit Agricole 0.58 5 Marzio Bruseghin (Ita) Fassa Bortolo 2.27 General classification 1 Inigo Landaluze (Spa) Euskaltel 25.16.36 2 Santiago Botero (Col) Phonak 0.49 3 Levi Leipheimer (USA) Gerolsteiner 1.16 4 Lance Armstrong (USA) Discovery Channel 1.37 5 Alexandre Vinokourov (Kaz) T-Mobile 1.40

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