Bennati earns the bravery prize, Steegmans the TGV, French noise pollution, Ferrari drives Holczer m
Good day Daniele Bennati The Lampre sprinter’s chances of breaking Robbie McEwen’s sprint hegemony certainly weren’t helped by the injuries he sustained in a crash three kilometres from the finish line in Caen on Friday. In fact, it was always a miracle that Bennati even took part in the sprint, as he went half-way to admitting at the finish-line: “Forty kilometres from the line, I didn’t think that I could do the sprint,” Bennati said. “At the 30-km to go mark I decided to give it a go and I must thank my team for having had faith in me[…]Unfortunately I was overtaken by McEwen who was going at double my speed. This is my first experience in the Tour, though, and be sure that I’ll be at the front right through to the end of the race.” Gert Steegmans The Belgian has wasted no time in getting used to his promotion to chief lead-out man for Robbie McEwen in the sprints for Davitamon-Lotto following Fred Rodriguez’s abandon. It’s as though the 25 year old has been waiting for his chance to shine, and, now he’s got it, he seems determined to show what he can do. Following his third win of this year’s Tour on Friday’s sixth stage to Vitre, McEwen described having Steegmans in the role as “like having my own TGV – and I’m the only with a ticket and just have to get off at my station”, and rates him to be winning Tour stages in the future – if he stays at Davitamon. “He’s certainly increasing his value,” McEwen said. “But I think he’s good for this team, and could develop as a leader. And as I get older, it’s a good chance for him to learn. The team could be built around him, so it would be best for him not to get bought out by the competition.” Bad day Viewers of Velo Club The large number of roadside fans who have turned out for this year’s race, despite the drama of last week, had their enthusiasm dampened as the glorious sunshine of the opening week, which had begun to disappear on Thursday’s stage, made way for the rain. And armchair viewers of France 2’s daily round-up of the day’s Tour stage, Velo Club, didn’t fare much better; they were greeted to out-of-tune host Gerard Holtz ruining old favourite ‘Singing in the rain’ – in English – at the wet finish in Vitre. And not just a line of it either. The forecast is that viewing figures of the show may be down tomorrow. Hans-Michael Holczer Another day, another round of questions on Levi Leipheimer’s alleged links with Michele Ferrari. After the rider’s denial yesterday, this morning it was the voluble Gerolsteiner chief who assured us that Levi’s contacts with “The Myth” are…nothing but a myth. “Levi has promised me that it’s not true,” Holczer told us. “The rumours haven’t destabilized him but, on the other hand, they don’t help cycling at all. There are teams including mine which want to fight doping but stories like this don’t help us to do that at all. They just create a climate of hysteria.” Levi Leipheimer Twenty-four hours before the Tour’s first time trial seems a little early to lock into hermit mode, but that is precisely what Leipheimer seemed to be doing in Lisieux today. OK it was a bit wet, OK he’s fed up of being asked about Michele Ferrari…but what brought on his surreal Wizard of Oz impression in the doorway of the Gerolsteiner team bus? Journalists lined up looking for Leipheimer; what they got was a white curtain, the sound of his voice and the eerie feeling that they’d stumbled into a confessional.