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Last Updated: Sunday, 27 July, 2003, 17:29 GMT 18:29 UK
Virenque scales new heights
Virenque wants a rest and time with his family
Virenque wants a rest and time with his family
Richard Virenque claimed a record-equalling sixth polka dot jersey for the Tour de France's best climber.

The 33-year-old Frenchman, who rides for the Belgian Quick Step team, finished with 324 points, way ahead of Swiss rider Laurent Dufaux on 187 and overall winner Lance Armstrong on 168.

Virenque is considering going for a seventh victory next year but is more concerned with taking time off from the saddle.

"I just want to savour this one for the moment," he said.

"I've made a lot of sacrifices to get this far and I want to spend some time with my family."

But he added: "As long as the flame is still burning inside me, then I'll still be on the bike."

Virenque equals the achievements of Belgian Lucien Van Impe and Spain's Federico Bahamontes, who also won the polka dot jersey six times.

As long as the flame is still burning inside me, then I'll still be on the bike
Richard Virenque

Yet the Frenchman's career was almost over when he was banned for six months following the Festina doping trial of October 1999.

After months of denials, Virenque finally admitted to systematic doping with his team, although many feel was made a scapegoat for practices that were said to be widespread in the peloton.

When he returned to action two years ago, few teams were willing to employ him.

Quick Step eventually did - and he soon repaid them with victory in the prestigious Paris-Tours one-day race.

Links to more Tour de France 2003 stories





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