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Latest update : 2008-07-21

Trailing the yellow jersey by a mere 7 seconds, the unlikely conqueror of the Alps and holder of the best climber's jersey Bernhard Kohl is on the verge of becoming a national hero in his native Austria.


Just 7 seconds away from Luxembourg's yellow jersey Frank Schleck, Austrian cyclist Bernhard Kohl is the latest and perhaps most surprising revelation of the Tour de France 2008. The Gerolsteiner rider stormed up the Alps Sunday with a somewhat unexpected best climber award and a well-deserved second place, pushing back the former yellow jersey Cadel Evans into third position.



And Kohl is now about to become a national hero in Austria. Local media laud this little known athlete, who has only emerged from the pack in the last few days to become the most successful Austrian cyclist since Max Bulla and his short-lived yellow jersey in 1931. “A sensational performance!”, roars the tabloid ‘Österreich’, opening wide its sports section to the “Kohl phenomenon”, like all Austrian media. “Kohl is writing the history of cycling”, adds the daily newspaper ‘Kurier’.



Indeed, the 26-year-old Viennese has become so popular in his country that the Austrian public TV channel (ORF) has decided to offer live broadcast of the closing stages of the Tour, scheduled to end Sunday, July 27, on the Champs Elysees. Kohl’s exploits and Austrian supporters flocking in ever greater numbers along the French roads eventually convinced ORF to change its mind and catch up with the competition. “In recent years, we would only broadcast the major stages, ORF spokesperson Michael Krause told the AFP. But Bernhard Kohl could well establish the best Austrian performance on the Tour in a long time. So we have decided to broadcast the last week live.”

Date created : 2008-07-21