Stage 4 - good day, bad day

A former Belgian legend falls even further from grace, but current kingpin Tom Boonen shows that any

A former Belgian legend falls even further from grace, but current kingpin Tom Boonen shows that any
Good day Belgian sport Following Justine Henin and Kim Clijsters' quarter-final wins at Wimbledon the previous day, meaning that the two would meet in the semi-final on Thursday and so Belgium were guaranteed a place in the final, Belgian sports fans were also able to welcome the Tour to Belgium, complete with a yellow-jersey clad Tom Boonen. Spectators were delirious with joy as the young Quick Step-Innergetic rider emerged from the team bus, and he was accompanied by a throng of journalists and well-wishers as he rolled to the signing-on area at the start in Huy. And to top it off, the king himself - of cycling, anyway - also put in an appearance, which was too much for one roadside fan who had just seen Boonen flash past. "And there's Eddy Merckx," she pointed out to her daughter. "I don't believe it!" Stressed-out football-fan Tour journalists With the whole of France gripped with World Cup fever, footy fans working on the Tour in the Saint Quentin press room were concerned that they were going to miss out on the semi-final between France and Portugal. But it was Tour organisers ASO to the rescue, erecting a giant screen in the salle de presse so that those still working hard at 9pm - and there were plenty of them - wouldn't miss a thing. Bad Day Freddy Maertens It's well known in cycling circles that Freddy Maerten's retirement years haven't been quietly wiled away in state-subsidised bliss. Money problems, a house burned to the floor, a modest new job in the Belgian National Cycling Museeum...and now a new nadir before stage 4 of the Tour de France. Once upon a time, journalists would have formed an orderly line for Maertens. This morning pressmen heading out of Huy glanced across at the former world champion thumbing press cars like a crazed hitchhiker and barely flinched. All, that was, except a pair of sympathetic British reporters. Maertens bundled in on top their packed lunches and went on to explain that he is at the Tour in a PR role for supermarket chain Champion, whose driver for the day had sped off without him. In recompense for the pulped baguettes, the two hacks got some a few stories to dine out on for several years... Eufemiano Fuentes ...who answered the claim that his client protfolio is made up entirely of cyclists as Victoria Beckham might respond to the rumour that she shops at Matalan. "I only worked with cyclists? That's an insult: I have worked in other sports like athletics, tennis and soccer," Fuentes told Spanish radio station Cadena Ser earlier today. "There are lots of names which still haven't come out. I'm really angry about the whole thing. Names of people I've never met have been mentioned up while others whose identity I can't reveal for professional reasons haven't come out?" Fuentes will apparently reveal more in a further interview with Cadena Ser tonight. In the meantime, one or two could be quaking in their (football?) boots. Anglo-French relations True, Bradley Wiggins did his bit for French team sponsor Cofidis - reflecting on his 200km breakaway "it was good to get out there and show my face, because the team loves that..." - but there wasn't much evidence of the entente cordiale between the Londoner and fellow escapee Laurent Lefevere. Wiggins' comments: "It was just showboating for TV from a typical frenchman [Lefevere]. He just sat there not pulling all day, but I knew we'd get caught anyway because the finish was too hard. I can understand why he did it but i thought we might wait until five km to go rather than jumping around at 10 to go."
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