In "The Start Ramp," veteran cycling cyber-journalist
Sarah tracks and reports on the Tour's
Young Rider Competition
(riders under 25 on Jan. 1) and Tour first-timers.
Damiano Cunego and Markus Fothen
After three weeks of riding, it took a brilliant time trial by Damiano Cunego
to secure the young rider's jersey. He'd predicted that Markus Fothen, the
better time trialist, would bridge the gap and take the jersey back. Of course,
what really happened is that Cunego rode the time trial of his life and took
the white jersey to Paris.
"I dreamed about Fothen last night! I deeply wanted to win this jersey.
This time trial is a good test for the future." As stated previously, he
won't be back at the Tour until 2008, but he's proud of the jersey and his
result. He said "I share the jersey with all the people who have suffered
with me when not everything was going well for me. This experience at the
Tour shows me that the best result can come with serenity instead of pressure."
Fothen, on the other hand, was understandably upset. He'd worn the jersey
for most of the tour, only to lose it just a few days before the final stage.
He told Cyclingnews he had thought he'd ridden well enough to take it. "I
think I gave it all I had [...] I didn't expect that Cunego would ride so
fast; I don't know if anybody did. That was a great performance of his."
He was clearly disappointed, but he finished quite well in his first Tour
and will probably do even better in the future.
Though Cunego didn't win a stage, he told
, after the final stage, that "I'll cherish the memory of these days, especially
the day to L'Alpe d'Huez when I finished second and the time trial in which
I refused to give in." He rode exceptionally well for his first tour, especially
after the rough year he had in 2005. He is definitely a rider to watch when
he returns to the Tour in 2008. (He will focus on the Tour of Italy
Congratulations are in order for both Fothen and Cunego. They rode extremely
well and are quite clearly two talents to keep an eye on. We wish them all
As for the rest of the 23 young riders? Only 19 finished, but of those two
were in the top twenty overall. And, of course, David De La Fuente's gallant
efforts during the mountain stages did not go unnoticed. He received the
most combative classification award in Paris.
Good job to all of the young riders and other first timers. We hope to see
you all back next year!