Reflections of a successful Tour
There were, as per usual, no changes in the overall standings on the Tour’s final stage Sunday. The race rolled out with the ceremonious champagne toasts, postponing racing until the final circuits in Paris where the pace quickened, a virtual start flag waved, and the attacks began.
The high pace and sprinters’ teams thwarted all the ambitious escapes and, as is normal, it all culminated with a sprint finish. Marcel Kittel (Giant-Shimano) stamped his name for the second successive year to the esteemed list of winners of the prestigious final stage, and with it proved he was the fastest sprinter of the 2014 Tour with his fourth victory.
The most significant of all attacks was Jens Voigt’s solo exit on the first loop. Like all the other break attempts it would not last, but it was a signature move from a savvy Tour veteran riding his last circuits by the Arc de Triomphe.
“I felt it was almost an obligation to entertain the fans one last time, and give what they expect: me out in the break with the peloton chasing and I have zero chance - hey that’s the story of my life, the story of my career! It’s what made me famous. That is the way I knew I must say good-bye. I stayed out there long enough for the announcer to call up my 65 beautiful wins!”
How do I feel? I will not miss the pain, the stress, but I am going to miss interacting with the people, all the young kids, and of course the boys – I mean Danny van Poppel is half my age and it is just cool to hang out with him and see what the young generation is up to!
I am happy on one side that the suffering is over, the 100kmh downhills, the crazy fighting for positions, but 17 years is a big chapter of my life, more than a third of my life, and maybe tonight, or tomorrow, I will realize that I am never coming back. But since I am a positive person I won’t cry that it’s over, but will laugh because it has happened. And that is how I look at it.
Afterwards I was sitting alone by myself with my head down, helmet and glasses off, and just sitting there and letting it all sink in. Even the crowd was polite enough to be silent and let me be and give me some privacy. I needed this - it was a pretty special moment.”
- Jens Voigt
Haimar Zubeldia and Fränk Schleck ended with the team’s top results, finishing in 8th and 12th places respectively. For Haimar, 37, it is his fifth time placing in the top eight in his 13 appearances at the Tour de France, a discreet and highly impressive achievement.
“His consistency of finishing five times in top 10 is because he has experience. We came to win stage five with Fabian [Cancellara], and after this day we had to make a choice to focus on stage wins or on the GC. But with all the mountains it was difficult for Jens, Rasty, Markel, or Matthew to win a stage. So we decided to protect the leaders Fränk and Haimar, and in the end this all paid off; we deserve this."
- Alain Gallopin (director).
Fränk Schleck was knocking on the door of a top 10 GC, and although he finished shy of this goal, he was elated to race and finish another Tour de France after missing out on the infamous event last year.
“I said this morning in the meeting that during these three weeks of racing we hated every second, every minute, of the race while we were suffering; we hated to pull ourselves out of bed every morning. But if you don’t have it, like I didn’t last year, you really miss it. So I have to say that I loved it this year. Rolling into Paris, seeing all the crowds again, you have to be proud. Yes I am proud of what I did, and very proud of the whole team.
It was three hard weeks with a lot of up and downs and in the end to be 8th and 12th we got the best out of it. We stuck together as a team, and we can proud of this Tour. I have not done a Grand Tour in two years, and it’s not easy to compensate that. Where I came from – not racing for last two years, and my preparation was not perfect with the crash in the Tour de Suisse - to finish 12th, almost in the top 10 overall in a Grand Tour, I can be very satisfied.
I want to end by giving my greeting to my brother Andy. I know he was watching, and would have loved to be here. He has to recover his knee now, but I can speak on behalf of the whole team: they all say hi to him and wish him a speedy recovery.
Three weeks has been awesome - all the suffering, the pain - I absolutely loved it!”
- Fränk Schleck
The final word on the team’s performance at the 2014 Tour de France fittingly should end with a comment from General Manager Luca Guercilena, the quiet, steady and highly respected hand that leads the Trek Factory Racing team:
“I have to say that we are quite happy, we climbed to eighth place in the overall and at the Tour de France that’s a very good result. We just missed the stage victory, but the first week was really tough for us, with the crashes, punctures, and all the crazy problems that are typical in the first week. It is normal that you don’t reach all the goals, and what we came away with, we are very happy to have achieved. We competed, we were present, and we were smart - we kept cool heads and did not make senseless action – and day by day we climbed our way into 8th place and that is really something special.”
- Luca Guercilena