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France, August, 2002
Brentjens takes Tour VTT overall
Bart Brentjens showed no mercy on the final day of the Tour VTT, making another successful late attack, and gaining Giant a clean sweep of the stage wins as well as the top three overall and the teams, the points and mountains competitions.
"Whether it's a stage race or a one-day event, you never believe you have won in mountain biking until you have crossed the final line" Brentjens insisted afterwards. "Plus with the worse weather and all that climbing, this last stage was definitely the hardest day of them all in the whole, so I didn't believe the win was coming home with me to Holland until I had completed last metre of the course."
The two-lap 27 kilometre circuit near Luchon included three climbs, the first of which forced all the riders without exception to walk up because of the scree. Then the second had a lengthy dangerous descent and heavy terrain from start to finish. Giant's veteran Rune Hoydahl was one of many riders unfortunate enough to puncture - in his case with five kilometres to go - although he still finished second overall, with team-mate Christophe Dupouey completing Giant's hat-trick on the gc by taking third spot.
Following his by-now standard tactic, Brentjens broke away on the final climb for a confident win, with Dupouey second and Hoydahl third.
"The job has been well done" commented Giant manager Tom Davies. "Now we have to settle into two weeks training for Kaprun and then the last round of the World Cup, where to take the teams classification we have to finish with three riders inside the top ten. Winning the teams prize here in the Tour VTT is already a good omen."
"Everybody has done a good race - apart from the top three, Marti had a strong second lap here on the last stage for example, which allowed him to finish eighth on the day, and Thomas, who did a lot of hard work too for the three overall leaders, took a stage, too. This is a good way for Bart to go forward after his disappointment at the European Championships and you can't really complain about such a high degree of success overall, either."
"Without boasting, we were definitely the best squad by far, and the team's back-up and support was a key factor for me." Brentjens, celebrating his third Tour VTT win after back-to-back victories in 1995 and 1996 commented afterwards.
"There was a lot of travelling each day, the courses were well-designed to make you race hard, and I had some mechanical problems - which are inevitable on this kind of course, but worrying - so it's not been easy. The race definitely deserves a thumbs-up in terms of organisation and prizes."
"I wasn't too dissatisfied with my European Championships result, even though I couldnt' repeat my win of the year before, but to come here and win three stages and the overall has been a real boost to my morale nonetheless."
"Quite apart from the satisfaction of coming first in a race as prestigious as the Tour VTT I have to recognise this week has been excellent preparation for the end of the season challenges, the World Cup and the World Championships."
Final overall 1 Bart Brentjens (Giant) 9.09.42 2 R. Hoydahl (Giant) 4.03 3 C. Dupouey (Giant) 4.47 4 S. Taberlay (International) 13.06 5 C. Herisset (Velo-Rock) 13.11
Points Rune Hoydahl (Norway) Giant 137 points; Mountains Bart Brentjens (Holland) Giant 118 points;