Aussie Focus

Sweeny attacks on Champs-Élysées to cap 'incredible' debut Tour

Australian Harry Sweeny (Lotto Soudal) finished his debut Tour de France with another attacking ride on the Champs-Elysees, the neo-pro capping off a strong performance at the race having shown plenty of potential for the future.

The 23-year-old Queenslander finished 127th in Paris after a race where he emerged as one of the bright spots for a Lotto Soudal team that was forced into a change of strategy after elite sprinter Caleb Ewan's crash in stage 3 forced him out of the race.

Sweeny surged off the front of the peloton after the conclusion of the traditional procession, joined by Patrick Konrad (BORA-Hansgrohe) and Stefan Bisegger (EF Education-Nippo) as the trio made the first attempt to stretch out a gap on the trailing peloton as they arrived in Paris.

Unfortunately, the move was short-lived with the group caught soon after as a new trio of Ide Schelling (BORA-Hansgrohe), Michael Valgren (EF Education-Nippo) and Brent van Moer (Lotto Soudal) took over at the front before the sprinters flew into the iconic finish with Wout van Aert (Jumbo-Visma) winning his third stage ahead of Jasper Philipsen (Alpecin-Fenix) and Mark Cavendish (Deceuninck-QuickStep) in a thrilling conclusion to the Tour.

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The 23-year-old made sure to soak in the atmosphere of the final stage as he revealed the cobbled roads made the ride a much more challenging one for his fitness after 21 days on the bike.

“I thought it [the Champs-Elysees) was going to be a little bit smoother to be honest!" Sweeny joked after the stage.

"I didn’t have the greatest legs out there, I was suffering. But it’s so special rolling on to the Champs-Elysees with all the fans cheering and the jets flying over. It’s really something special."

Sweeny addressed his attack in the breakaway as an impulsive decision and revealed he wasn't expecting much success from the move, as he compared it to Stage 12 where he launched multiple attacks on the way to a third-place finish in Nîmes.

“It was a bit of a rush of blood like the attack the other day on the climb in the breakaway," he said.

"You do something in the moment. I wasn’t really expecting it to stick but just to be out front and still racing after 21 days is good. I think perhaps I was a bit harsh on myself yesterday in the TT (time trial), but you’ve got to start somewhere and I think that was a pretty good place to start."

The Queenslander could find few words to describe the experience of his first ever Tour de France, but the strength of support from the fans throughout was clearly something that has stuck in his mind.

“I've no words, really," Sweeny said.

"Incredible. Just the fans is something that I’ve never experienced before and for this to be the first race back with fans after COVID is… I can’t really describe it to be honest. Speechless."

With the enormous effort over, the focus was now on celebration and recovery for Sweeny as he told of his plans to take a well-earned break in the sun on the Mediterranean coast.

“I have a few friends here, so I’ll have a beer or something then head back to Nice tomorrow and relax I think, have a bit of time on the beach," he said.


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3 min read
Published 19 July 2021 at 6:17am
By SBS Cycling Central
Source: SBS