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Phonak saves face for Swiss in Tour de France

Oscar Pereiro of Spain won the stage to Pau for the Phonak team

(Keystone)

Cyclist Lance Armstrong won his seventh consecutive victory in the Tour de France on Sunday, with Switzerland’s Phonak team satisfied with a stage win.

Apart from Phonak, which took part in the event for the second time, there were seven Swiss riders at the start of the 92nd Tour - but they hardly shone.

By claiming his seventh victory in a row, Armstrong will remain in the history books of the Tour for a long time to come.

In 13 years as a professional, of which 18 months were spent recovering from cancer, the 34-year-old Texan chalked up no fewer than 90 wins.

From 1999 he focused solely on the Tour de France and shared success in the event with nobody. On Sunday on the Champs Elysées, he ended his career in style.

Honourable mentions

For the Swiss, Phonak Hearing Systems wiped out the disappointment of 2004. The victory of Spaniard Oscar Pereiro in Pau, the honourable mentions for Santiago Botter (second in Briançon) and Pereiro (fourth in Puy-en-Velay), two riders in the first ten (Ladis ninth, Pereiro tenth) and Pereiro’s second place in the mountain stages, are all cause for satisfaction.

"Next season, we will not change very much," said Phonak manager John Lelangue. "We will always ride with three leaders. But in the Giro d’Italia we will race with a real leader, not like this year," he added.

Apart from Phonak’s sixth place in the team standings, the Swiss showing hardly gives cause for optimism for the future.

Only the seventh place of 24-year-old Fabian Cancellara in the Noirmoutier time trial and third place in the final stage were any comfort for the cruel situation of Swiss cycling, which has hit rock bottom.

The Bernese Cancellara is above all a rider for one-day races. "At present my abilities allow me to aim for the one-day classics or a long stage. That was my objective at the start of the Tour," he explained.

Illness

"The first week gave me motivation and confidence. Then I was hit by illness. I had to take antibiotics. I give myself five years to achieve a good position in a big race," he said.

Cancellara is now leaving the Fassa Bortolo team to join CSC of Denmark.

The best Swiss in the individual standings was Alexandre Moos from canton Valais, who took 42nd position. He did the work he was hired to do, namely accompany his team leaders as much as he could in the Alps and the Pyrenees.

As for Beat Zberg from Uri, he was hardly to be seen. The same goes for Michael Albasini of canton Thurgau. But Bernese David Loosli was on occasion involved in the massive sprints that took place during the first week (17th in Montargis and 20th in Karlsruhe).

Called up at the last minute, Steve Zampieri from Neuchâtel left the peloton exhausted in Grenbole. Also stepping in 24 hours before the start was Rubens Bertogliati, who managed to slip among the leading riders several times.

swissinfo, Pierre-Henri Bonvin in Paris

Key facts

Final individual standings:

1. Lance Armstrong (United States) - 3,608.0km in 86h15’02" (41.654km/h)
2. Ivan Basso (Italy) - at 4’40"
3. Jan Ullrich (Germany) - at 6’21"
...
9. Floyd Landis (US) Phonak - at 12’44"
10. Oscar Pereiro Sio (Spain) Phonak - 16’14"


Team position:

Phonak: sixth

end of infobox

In brief

The 92nd Tour de France had 21 stages, including two individual time trials and a team trial against the clock.

Lance Armstrong picked up €400,000 (SFr625,000) in prize money. The total prize money of the Tour de France is almost €3 million.

end of infobox


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