French rugby union dreams of a founding weekend

A historic weekend? Rugby League has been struggling for years to come out of the rut, a nice cousin of the game of XV but always in its shadow, reduced to a piece of Occitania which maintains a pale flame. But now this Saturday, October 9, the Catalan Dragons of Perpignan spin to Manchester to challenge St Helens in the final of the Super League, the English championship in which the French club has participated since 2006, the only one admitted to play in the most upscale European competitions in discipline. The Dragons therefore have the opportunity to become the first foreign champion of the event.

→ INVESTIGATION. Rugby Union plays the security card

And now, the next day, Sunday, October 10, Toulouse Olympique XIII receives Featherstone in the Championship final, the second English division in which the Pink City club has participated since 2017, the only foreigner included in this championship which offers its winner the accession to the prestigious Super League. The Toulouse residents are therefore very close to joining the Dragons, a dream they have cherished for more than a decade.

Successful professionalization

“All of this is the result of hard work”, asks Bernard Guasch, the president of the Dragons. For four years, around Steve McNamara, the former coach of the England team (from 2010 to 2015), the club has strengthened to erase this lack of consistency that it is often criticized by specialists across the Channel. “We have made a big effort on training, in order to add foreign playersyoung French people finally performing ”, explains Bernard Guasch. Toulouse Olympique has also bet on a very high-end workforce by carrying out a three-star recruitment for this season.

→ ANALYSIS. For the Bleues du rugby, a year of wave to the soul

The two clubs are based, it is true, on a more solid financial base, “A professionalization which allows us this constant progression”, sums up Bernard Sarrazain, at the helm of the “TO” for nine years, and who also welcomes the big blow achieved this year: an agreement signed with the Toulouse Stadium, under which the Quinzist club welcomes its cousin in its Ernest stadium. Walloon. “Which proves that we can overcome the old sterile quarrels”applauds Bernard Sarrazain.

The club also benefits from numerous partners from the “Oval Table” which brings together 300 local sponsors, one of the city’s most popular entrepreneur networks. The TO budget (3.6 million euros) should double in the event of a rise in the Super League, thanks in particular to television rights multiplied by eight to reach 1.5 million euros.

The TO, however, would approach the Super League with almost half the resources of the Catalan Dragons, now with more than 11 million in budget, including 4.5 million generated by private sponsors, some of them national. “A derby with the TO in the Super League, that would be great, enthuses Bernard Guasch. I hope that we will thus draw other French clubs, while participating in the emergence of a beautiful team of France. “

Finally revitalize the French team

This is the last stage of the rocket, the one that is still missing. “The French rugby union team has been chasing good results for decades, underlines the historian Mike Rylance, English of his state but specialist in the game to XIII in the Hexagon. It will still take time to bring out enough promising young players capable of competing with their English counterparts. But the time has finally come for optimism. “

Elected in December 2020, the new Federal President Luc Lacoste does not fail to punctuate his speech. “Today, we are finally all moving forward together: the triptych is the Dragons, the TO, the France team. We have overhauled our training system, we are launching an unrivaled recruitment campaign. The planets, it seems to me, are lining up. The nations of the South which dominate the discipline are starting to look at us. “

In the same vein, France is suddenly a candidate for the organization of the 2025 World Cup. It should be able to measure the level of its Blues from next October 23, in Perpignan, during a hot France-England. The Dragons, Toulouse, the Blues, and why not three consecutive victories?


The 2025 World Cup in France?

This is the dream pursued by the new Federal President Luc Lacoste: to organize the Rugby Union World Cup in 2025. The last time France alone hosted the event was in 1972. Australia, nation flagship of the discipline, would look favorably on the French candidacy. “I also recently met Bernard Laporte, the president of the XV Federation, who assured me of full support., says Luc Lacoste. Which proves that yesterday’s wars are over. We share the same ball. We are pushing in the same direction. “



Football: stunning, the Blues eliminate Belgium from the League of Nations

Resilient and stunning, the French football team signed a breathtaking last half hour to overcome a revengeful Belgium (3-2) and validate its qualification for the final of the League of Nations, thanks to the heroism of its youngster international Théo Hernandez.

Dominant for 60 minutes, Belgium has long believed to be able to soften the bitter memory of the semi-final of the 2018 World Cup in Russia. But the world number 1 selection sank against the world champions, once again, in a much more miraculous scenario than in St. Petersburg three years ago (1-0 for the Blues) … A revenge that risks to further establish the rivalry between these two neighboring nations.

Patience, revolt and madness

“Winning this match compared to the scenario, it proves once again the strength of character of this team”, reacted the French coach Didier Deschamps on TF1.

The Blues have built their success with patience, revolt and madness. Karim Benzema reduced the score (62e), Kylian Mbappé smiled again from the penalty spot (69e), and Théo Hernandez, for his second selection, illuminated Juventus stadium with a clear shot at the far post (90e), piercing a destitute Thibaut Courtois.

→ ANALYSIS. Football: French and Belgians in place for the 2018 revenge

Spain-France will therefore be the prestigious poster for the final of the second edition of the League of Nations, Sunday (8:45 p.m.) in Milan, with a second trophy within reach of Deschamps since taking office in 2012. He will not be able to not replace, nor erase, the missed Euro of the Blues, but it could allow to approach the path to the World Cup 2022 with hope.

Total intensity

Belgium and its golden generation of Hazard, Lukaku and De Bruyne, is experiencing a new disillusionment in its quest for an international title: the team led by Roberto Martinez postpones its dreams for a year, to Qatar.

The 20,000 tickets on sale had not all found a taker on Thursday evening, but the 12,400 fans who came to Juventus stadium will not forget this crazy meeting: the few hundred French supporters stayed for nearly half an hour to sing after the final whistle.

→ EXPLANATION. Football: Fifa consults to better impose its biennial World Cup

From the start of the match, a few boos rustled during hymns on both sides, and the total intensity of the first moments, marked by a high-class save signed by Hugo Lloris in front of Kevin De Bruyne (4e), showed that the two selections were not there to make up the figure.

Mbappé extinguished De Bruyne

The Mancunien was going to be the man of this first period: constantly found between the lines, ingenious in his passes, “KDB” has long eclipsed the 50e selection of Kylian Mbappé, a record in Blue at only 22 years old, with his two assists, for Yannick Carrasco (37e) and the impressive Romelu Lukaku (41e). The Chelsea striker even believed, at the very end of the match, to offer the victory to his people but he was signaled out of play (87e).

It was not until the hour of play, when the Belgians finally retreated, that Kylian Mbappé found the loophole. A decisive pass for Karim Benzema, scorer against his teammate Thibaut Courtois, then a penalty obtained by Antoine Griezmann and transformed with authority by the PSG striker, who had only scored once in Blue in the last eleven games.

Mbappé had offered the first goal to Benzema, Benzema offered the second to Mbappé by giving the ball of the penalty to his young partner.

This shock of neighbors was also a match between brothers: the brothers Lucas and Théo Hernandez, holders, wore the blue jersey together for the first time, unheard of since the Revellis, in 1974. The siblings will remember this first for a long time. association, and Theo now has an appointment at San Siro Sunday, the stadium of his daily life.



Football: French and Belgians in place for the 2018 revenge

In football tournaments, this match would be called a consoling one. In other words, a meeting for butter organized so that everyone goes home happy with a lot. This semi-final of the League of Nations between France and Belgium, Thursday, October 7, looks like a stopgap for two major nations of European football, disappointed by their journey during the last Euro. France, the reigning world champion, was taken out of this tournament in the round of 16 by Switzerland. Belgium, third in the 2018 Russian World Cup, only made one more lap, eliminated in the quarter by the future Italian winner.

→ READ. Euro 2021: the Blues fall from the top

Created in 2018 to replace the tunnels of friendly matches without sporting stakes or big interest for televisions and sponsors, this second edition of the League of Nations is the perfect opportunity for Didier Deschamps’ men to redeem themselves. “We must not minimize this competition (…). This will not erase what happened, the Euro is behind us (…) there is a title at stake, we have a semi-final to play against one of the best teams in the world ”, he explained Monday 4 at a press conference.

Worrying performances after the Euro

Since this disastrous last quarter of an hour of the Euro against Switzerland, when the Blues were caught in the score before losing on penalties in overtime, the group had lost ground. The worrying draws against Bosnia and Ukraine in early September in qualifying matches for the 2022 World Cup had hit the nail on the head. Fortunately, the Benzema-Griezmann festival, a few days later against Finland (2-0), had put things in place and incidentally, almost qualified the Blues for Qatar. While bringing to light the puzzle of the attack.

Two, without Kylian Mbappé (injured), the Blues had found their way to the goal thanks to an Antoine Griezmann flourished in a role of leader. What will happen to three with Mbappé, against Belgium, in the ineffective configuration of the Euro? If Benzema and Griezmann seem indisputable in the device of the boss of the Blues, he sent the young Parisian a clear message during the show Telefoot, Sunday October 3. “The altruistic and collective Mbappé against Manchester City is the one I want to see”, he asserted. In other words, that his star player finds the spirit that allowed Paris SG to overthrow the champion of England in the Champions League, everything will be fine. If he plays personal and gets annoyed with his teammates like lately in a club, beware …

→ CHRONICLE. Euro 2021, the lost illusions

Station also behind, because the offensive festival against Finland (2-0) should not forget that the French deficiencies during the Euro were initially defensive. Until the Finnish good fortune, the Blues had taken the bad habit for months to concede the first goal of each game. During this last match, the boss had innovated by composing a defense to three, instead of the usual quartet. Which had worked pretty well.

A rivalry that sometimes got out of hand

Crucial for the blue crew of Captain Lloris, this meeting is also important for the Red Devils, who have revenge to take. Number one in the ranking of nations by virtue of great consistency in recent years (France is fourth), the band of Eden Hazard dreamed big until their missed European quarter-final against Italy. And still has not digested the semi-final lost in Russia against France, which had left the Belgians a bitter taste. “We lose against a team that is not better than us”, lamented goalkeeper Thibault Courtois. “I would rather lose with this Belgium than win with this France”, had assured Eden Hazard.

These words had sharpened the traditional rivalry between the two neighbors. If the Belgians have regularly won in recent years in a friendly match, they have lost the major official matches (5-0 at the 1984 euro, and 4-2 in the small final for the 3e place at the 1986 World Cup). “The rivalry has always been there, but it is healthy and sporty, tempers Didier Deschamps, but there is everything that happened outside, in the comments, there must have been excesses on both sides, because we are in the interpretations of hot words which have certainly taken on too much importance. “



Olympic Games: Onesta plan to glean more medals in Paris

For weeks, we could feel the pot boiling on the side of the high performance cell and its director Claude Onesta. Present on all fields in Tokyo, the former boss of the French multi-medal handball team, returned from Japan disappointed by the overall performance of French athletes. “We lacked perspective on the level of our athletes because the pandemic had stopped competitions around the world and disrupted training. We hoped to be at least at the level of Rio in 2016 and we are far below “, he observes.

→ ANALYSIS. Tokyo Olympics: for the Blues, the account is not so good

The Blues brought back only 33 medals, against 42 in Rio, and the extraordinary performance of team sports, such as the good results of judo and fencing, did not mask some severe accidents, in athletics and swimming. particularly. These two disciplines are particularly targeted by the plan of attack developed, Tuesday, October 5, by Claude Onesta, in the presence of the Minister of Sports, Roxana Maracineanu. They represent a major stake, giving alone more than 250 medals, that is to say nearly a quarter of the rewards distributed during an Olympiad.

Generalization of the high performance unit in federations

These federations and a few others will therefore be the subject of specific support and their management will henceforth be remote-controlled by the ministry and the performance unit headed by Claude Onesta. This violation of the rule of independence of federations is clearly supported by its supervising minister. Which is engaged in the recruitment of a new national technical director for athletics and a performance director, after the defection of the former cyclist Florian Rousseau who threw in the towel after Tokyo.

These two functions – development of mass practice and high-level supervision – today united under the hat of the national technical director, will be systematically duplicated. “This DTN function has become too broad, sometimes those who occupy these positions have never experienced a high level, so each federation must have its own high performance unit, which will work with us”, clarifies Claude Onesta.

Develop the culture of winning

For the former handball player, one of the great problems of French sport is the isolation of athletes with their personal trainer. “75% of athletes are not hosted in state centers, such as Insep and Creps (1). We must send personnel to these structures so that these technicians, often valuable, adhere to the methods allowing their athletes not only to perform well, but also to sublimate themselves on the day of the Olympic final ”, he explains.

→ OUR FILE OG 2024, the Olympic Games in France

This culture of winning, commonplace in Anglo-Saxon or Asian countries, is due to a multitude of details allowing, according to him, an athlete to be relaxed and confident when setting off. “It is not only a question of acting on the psychological level, but of progressing in all the fields, technical, physical, material, which constitute the performance. This is what I call the marginal gains theory, which allows the athlete to be sure that he is going to walk on water on D-Day, because if he does not have the assurance that everything has been done at best, it does not move forward. “

Concretely, the coaches will be better supported, including financially. “We ask guys paid 2,000 to 3,000 € to have an influence on a global competition while being available and sometimes away from home every weekend, it does not work”, he explains. Adding that many renowned French coaches, left to exercise their talents abroad for financial reasons, are being recalled.

Athletes too scattered over the territory

The geographic isolation of athletes also distances them from technical and medical resource centers. Performance houses, sort of regional correspondents for the cell headed by Claude Onesta, will therefore be set up. And the former boss of handball, used to dealing with professional athletes, also relies a lot on the goodwill of team sports clubs, used to managing their players’ problems in a few hours.

Large football and rugby clubs, such as Clermont, have been approached to provide physiotherapists, doctors, and even financial advice. “The first contacts are enthusiastic, because they are happy to help the Olympic movement. This will allow their players to socialize with other athletes and they will be able to communicate about their actions. In fact, everyone wins ”, he continues. Likewise, everyone has an interest in the France team being as efficient as possible in 2024.


Foundation stone for the Arena-Porte de la Chapelle

Anne Hidalgo laid the first stone of the “Arena-Porte de la Chapelle” on Tuesday, October 5, the only construction in Paris ahead of the 2024 Games. The intermediate level sports infrastructure (8,000 places) must accommodate during the Games badminton and rhythmic gymnastics, then para-badminton, para-taekwondo and para-weightlifting competitions. The hall must be delivered in 2023, and outside the Games, host Paris Basketball as a resident club from September 2023. It must also host shows, concerts, conferences, and meet the needs of the inhabitants of the district with the creation of two gymnasiums.



Football: Fifa consults to better impose its biennial World Cup

“The most inclusive and in-depth consultation process the football world has ever seen internationally. “ President Gianni Infantino does not hesitate to praise it, this vast program that his International Football Federation (Fifa) has just launched to collect the opinions of all players in the round ball on the reform of international match schedules, and in particular on its flagship measure: a World Cup every two years.

→ READ. Football: the Blues regain victory against Finland

On September 30, at a four-hour online summit bringing together FIFA member associations, Gianni Infantino made sure not to anger anyone, ensuring that “Everyone must come out a winner from this process”, but hammering that his vision “Is to make football truly global”. Between the lines, it is all the stake of the weeks to come which can be read. Because a battle is well underway.

Major hostility to reform

This World Cup every two years is not a new idea. Gianni Infantino’s predecessor, Sepp Blatter, had suggested it in the late 1990s. But no one had dared to touch the legendary competition. Nearly a quarter of a century later, at least one consensus is emerging: the need to change an international calendar that no longer satisfies anyone. Too many appointments, too many periods in the year forcing players to join their national team, generating fatigue and risk of injury at home, and discontent among club managers forced to let them go.

The solution ? Director of development for Fifa since the end of 2019, ex-Arsenal manager Arsène Wenger has been exposing it for a few weeks: more than one or two international breaks (against five today), a World Cup every two years, alternating with a continental competition, such as the Euro for example, which would also become biennial. Just like the Women’s World Cup which would follow the same path.

Since the announcement of the project, a few players have shown major hostility. The continental bodies of Europe (UEFA) and South America (Conmebol), the world union of players (Fifpro), associations of supporters. Individually, voices are raised against the change, from coach Didier Deschamps to his Belgian counterpart Roberto Martinez, including former players like Thierry Henry.

For them, a World Cup every two years would dilute the interest of the event, and a major annual international event would exhaust the players. “Have the current players been asked what they think? They are not in favor ”, recently assured the former Bleu on an English channel. UEFA President Aleksander Ceferin did not hesitate to wave the threat of a boycott if the reform were to be carried out. Between pro and anti, war is declared.

Playing the rich against the poor

For FIFA, it is first and foremost a matter of communication: convincing that it wants above all a universal development of the game, by responding in particular to the needs of Africa and Asia whose competitions obviously do not have the influence and value of those played by Europeans and South Americans. The bottom line is also largely financial. With a biennial World Cup, Fifa hopes to increase its income, dangling an interesting runoff to neglected continents.

→ ANALYSIS. Football: three European Cups or nothing

A logic that UEFA can afford to denigrate: with its annual European cups, it generates twice as much income as Fifa: $ 12.5 billion from 2017 to 2020, a period that does not even take into account the Euro postponed to 2021, against 6.4 billion for Fifa. Fifa can suddenly play the institution’s card, defending the rest of the world against the interests of the richest.

A vote must finally settle the debates (read opposite). To win, Fifa must convince 106 associations of its 211 members. The African Confederation, whose new president (elected in March 2021), lawyer and billionaire businessman, is known to be very close to Gianni Infantino, declared itself rather favorable last July. She represents 54 votes at the Fifa Congress. The Caribbean Football Union, with its 27 votes, is also won over. The Asian Confederation is still on the reserve, but some of its 47 federations are already applauding with both hands (Saudi Arabia, Lebanon, Nepal, Bangladesh, Maldives, Sri Lanka). The coming weeks indeed promise a lot of backstage turmoil.


A world summit by the end of the year

At the same time as the launch of the consultation process, Fifa announced a calendar on September 30. The current consultation phase also concerns supporters, Fifa promising an international survey of a sample of more than 100,000 people.

Next November, ” a full report on the process will be published and discussed during a ” world summit “That Fifa must organize” by the end of the year “. Will a vote then be decided to effect a change? The vagueness remains on the subject. Even if Fifa would like to go fast, it still has a little time to impose an upheaval that would come into force in 2028.



Italian Sonny Colbrelli offers himself a Dantesque Paris-Roubaix

It had to be hell. A Paris-Roubaix as before, with mouths black with mud, vague looks, abandonment in spades and desires to be somewhere else, warm, for the unfortunate people released on this cursed pavement. A Paris-Roubaix like in 2001, at least, the last time the wind, the rain and the cold had invited themselves on the queen of classics, preserved since dantesque weather conditions.

Hell indeed presented itself at the start this Sunday, October 3, at least during the first three hours of the race. Time to do his job, to throw some hopes on the slippery pavement (the Swiss Stefan Kung, the Slovak Peter Sagan), to deflate others with treacherous punctures (the French and local of the stage Florian Sénéchal, Italian Gianni Moscon betrayed, leading 20 km from the finish). Then hell moved under other skies, leaving trail and sodden borders, puddles galore, but a ray of sunshine too, sometimes to warm hearts.

Three novices in the last lap

But it was so much a Paris-Roubaix as before that a novice even offered himself the event, a singularity that had not happened since the French Jean Forestier in 1955, surprise winner of the Paris-Roubaix for his very first participation, fifteen small seconds ahead of Fausto Coppi and Louison Bobet. Sixty-six years later, it was the Italian Sonny Colbrelli who put his name on the charts for his first visit to the North.

On the André-Pétrieux velodrome, it was also three discovery runners who came forward to compete in the sprint to victory. Like Sonny Colbrelli, the young Belgian of 22 years Florian Vermeersch and the Dutch star Mathieu Van der Poel had never set the wheels on the difficult roads of Hauts-de-France. The trio however endeavored to avoid all the pitfalls. Sonny Colbrelli as a strong man of a key year for him, already champion of Italy and Europe and rather brilliant on the Tour de France; Florian Vermeersch in the hope of Belgian cycling, riding like an old man since the morning in the good breakaways; and Mathieu Van der Poel, quadruple cyclo-cross world champion and therefore used to chaotic routes.

Mathieu Van der Poel too fair

The ambitious Dutchman, in the main favorites before the start, had perfectly negotiated the race to get rid of his main rivals, including the Belgian Wout Van Aert and the Czech Zdenek Stybar, finally 7e and 26e. But he did not keep enough under the pedal, the impetuous yellow jersey of the first week of the last Tour de France, to break the pawn in the final lap to a Sonny Colbrelli who was satisfied for a long time with his reputation as a sprinter.

At 31, the rider from the province of Brescia (Lombardy) confirms that his profile is increasingly broad and solid. We already knew he was at ease on the classics, we discovered him passing the moguls quite well this year for his fifth Tour de France (52e, his best result), he is now able to transcend himself in the worst conditions. Winning on the pavement is rare, and the Italians know it perfectly well: their last success dates back to 1999 with the solo arrival of Andrea Tafi. For the French, the famine has lasted even longer. Since 1997 exactly. This Sunday, the first tricolor, Christophe Laporte of the Cofidis formation, crossed the line in sixth place.



The beautiful autumn of women’s cycling

When we look at the evolution of women’s cycling in France, we can see the glass half empty. The first Paris-Roubaix, Saturday October 2, is an opportunity “Which could have happened earlier”, testifies Audrey Cordon-Ragot, 27e and first tricolor at the world championships on Saturday 25 September, in the Sunday newspaper. It is true that the cobblestone race is seventeen years behind the women’s Tour of Flanders, created in 2004, and four over the Liège-Bastogne-Liège, launched in 2017.

→ ANALYSIS. Women’s sport on the cusp of collective agreements

But we can choose the glass half full, affirming that this initiative arrives on time, many runners preferring to wait before rubbing shoulders with the hell of the North. “It’s tough and you can’t compare this race with anything else. I have mixed feelings: I’m super excited but on the other hand it’s also a little scary ”, explains one of the big favorites, Chantal van den Broek-Blaak, last winner on the Tour of Flanders and the Italian race on Strade Bianche paths, which are far from being healthy walks.

“The female peloton was not ready”

“In reality, the women’s teams and most of the runners were not asking for Paris-Roubaix”, advance Thierry Gouvenou, number 2 in cycling at Amaury Sport Organization (ASO), the organizing company of the cobblestone race. “This race is special, it requires physical qualities and specific training. Overall, the peloton was not ready ”, he continues, recalling that the first women’s Roubaix could have taken place as early as 2020 (the race was canceled due to the Covid epidemic).

This first arrival in the North comes after the official announcement, at the end of June, of an even stronger event for ASO society and women’s cycling in general: the rebirth of the Tour de France, abandoned in 1989, and which will be reborn. ashes in 2022. The good news does not stop there, Thursday September 23, David Lappartient, the French president of the UCI (Union cycliste internationale), the body responsible for pro cycling, has promised the creation of a Tour de Romandie in 2022, pending further announcements in the coming weeks.

A few days earlier, the Cofidis team, one of the three French teams playing in the first division (World Tour) for boys, unveiled the composition of its professional female team. “For a company like ours where 60% of the staff is female, this makes sense, and it has nothing to do with a fad. We had been thinking about it for ten years, there we felt that it was the right moment, because we see that women’s cycling is booming ”, explains Thierry Vittu.

→ REPORT Cycling: the return of the Women’s Tour gives them wings

This man has three hats at Cofidis, HRD, communications director and president of the company bringing together cycling teams, which allows him to see the big picture. “Cycling in turn enters the positive spiral in which all women’s sport is engaged”, he explains.

France far from the score

Evil tongues will say it was about time, because cycling was one of the last major sports to offer a specific license to female pros after an agreement was signed in January, accompanied by the establishment of a minimum wage. . With a certain delay, it is true, in France on the English, Scandinavian and even Italian neighbors, who are ahead of the game.

Cofidis will only be the third French pro team, after Arkéa-Samsic and FDJ-Nouvelle-Aquitaine-Futuroscope. This places France far from other nations of modern cycling, with Italy (8 professional teams), the United States (5), Great Britain and the Netherlands (4) in the lead. All nations that can be found at the top of the women’s world podiums: it is an Italian, Elisa Balsamo, who was crowned world champion on Saturday September 25, ahead of the Dutch Marianne Vos.

“We had a big delay in France, not a lot of runners, but I think we are in the process of making up for it, even if there is still a long way to go”, explains Thierry Gouvenou, who is delighted that his company ASO has accompanied the creation of the first Paris-Roubaix for women with a major innovation: unlike the other classics, where girls open the road to boys, driving in the morning at one hour of little listening , the peloton will have the honors of a direct afternoon, on France 3, for a route with thirty kilometers of cobblestones, twenty-five less than the boys. “We are going there gradually and we hope that the TV audience, the sinews of war for the economy of a race and the satisfaction of sponsors, will be there”, he continues.


A Parisian start for the Women’s Tour de France

The start of the Women’s Tour de France, the first organized since the end of this race in 1989, will take place in Paris, Sunday July 24, 2022, the day of the arrival of the Men’s Tour. The route will not be unveiled until October 14, but we know that the race should last eight days. It will probably head due south to accompany the vacation route. “It will be a kind of Paris-Nice”, the managers of the organizing company, Amaury Sport Organization (ASO) explained at the end of June.



Football: three European Cups or nothing

What do clubs as prestigious as Sparta Prague, Tottenham, Feyenoord or AS Roma have in common? Answer: after having made the heyday of the big European games, these dinosaurs now absent from the front of the stage, must be content to play the supporting roles, in the Europa League Conference, the new invention of UEFA, launched mid- September.

The European football body, which brings together 55 member countries, is stepping up initiatives to animate the desert of continental fields outside the cities of the Champions League. Its managers therefore imagined this Europa League Conference, nicknamed C4 in reference to the abbreviations C1 and C3, reserved for the Champions League and the Europa League. The choice of this 4 is quite a symbol, because the new Cup was not judged at the level to benefit from the number 2, left free since 1999 by the disappearance of the Cup Winners’ Cup (C2).

→ ANALYSIS. Football: Madrid’s rebound by Eduardo Camavinga

If it brings back fond memories to all football fans born in the last century, familiar with the three historic trophies (Champions Cup, Cup Winners’ Cup and UEFA Cup), the arrival of this new competition will make Thursdays even more crowded Europeans. The C4 matches will be played on Thursday like those of C3, with some headaches in prospect for the television channels, in particular for RMC Sport which holds the rights for France (Vitesse Arnhem-Rennes is broadcast at 9 p.m. Thursday on RMC1) .

A few exotic entrants

The list of 32 qualifiers is almost exotic, as it puts the spotlight on clubs that hardly anyone has heard of in the major leagues. Thus the Lincoln Red Imps became in September the first Gibraltar club to compete in a continental competition. The name of Rennes’ opponent of the day, Vitesse, would make one smile if it was not a branch of the reigning European champion, Chelsea. The London club uses as a reserve team or training center this historic Dutch club founded in the city of Arnhem, which fell very low until its takeover by relatives of Roman Abramovich, the Russian billionaire owner of Chelsea.

In France, a sixth place in Rennes during the last Ligue 1 championship was enough to appear in C4. The Breton club is the only tricolor team invited. This is due to the rank of Ligue 1, ranked fifth in the major leagues (behind Germany and ahead of Portugal) in the UEFA index measuring the performance of each competition over the long term. Other minor championships are better off.

Launched in a rush

The complexity of the qualification rules is one of the distinctive signs of this new Cup, the regulations of which will change from… the next edition, in 2022. This is to say to what extent it was launched in a rush linked to the reforms underway. two big sisters, the Champions League and the Europa League. One thing is certain: the final will take place on May 25 in Tirana, Albania, and the main winner will have a direct qualification for the Europa League the following season.

→ ANALYSIS. Football: supporters find the stands and impose themselves as guardians of the temple

Will the game be worth the candle at the end of the season when the qualifiers of the last rounds will be on the edge in their own championship? Not sure. In Rennes, Thursday September 16 for their first day of the Europa League Conference, the Breton spectators would have liked to see Hugo Lloris, the Tottenham goalkeeper, in the cages. But the captain of the France team, preserved for other more important meetings in England, was on the bench. The Rennais had a good match (2-2) and were reassured against a big European caliber when they doubted in the French league. But this Thursday, they will also think about their meeting of Sunday, October 3 in Ligue 1, against Paris Saint-Germain …



Football: Madrid’s rebound by Eduardo Camavinga

A huge smile. For a few weeks now, it has illuminated the face of Eduardo Camavinga, at ease in his crampons and in his new life. It must be said that the young prodigy of French football could hardly hope for a more successful integration into Real Madrid, the Spanish club joined at the end of the transfer window by the ex-Rennais on August 31.

Since then, the story unfolds in fact an almost ideal scenario. A first on September 12, and barely six minutes after coming into play, a first goal to add to Real’s bill against Celta Vigo (5-2). On September 15, for the day of the start of the Champions League, he only played ten minutes but resolved the situation and delivered an assist for the victory in the snatch of the Spaniards on the lawn of Inter Milan. “He made a meteoric debut and must now succeed in being the holder”, applauds the Madrid sports daily Marca.

A staggering precocity

Eduardo Camavinga does everything for. On September 19, Real Madrid are led to Valencia. The Frenchman enters the scene, stabilizes and revitalizes the midfielder, helping to reverse the situation (1-2). Carlo Ancelotti, his trainer, rewards “The freshness of youth” by establishing him on September 22 against Mallorca. The “Merengue” win (6-1) and Marca greet again: “This kid has everything to be the transfer of the year”. Lady!

Eduardo Camavinga can all the more smile as this Madrid idyll was not played out in advance, at the end of a rather mixed year for the ex-Rennais. His arrival at Real, obviously a childhood dream, Eduardo initially applied to living it rather soberly. “In our family, we had struggles, he commented on September 26 at the microphone of Téléfoot. So we stayed on our toes. We hid our joy a little. “

Eduardo says “we” more often than “I”. It is true that the family is counting on him. His Congolese parents, who arrived in France when Eduardo, born in a refugee camp in Angola in 2002, was just over one year old, enrolled him in a club in Fougères (Ille-et-Vilaine) in his seventh year. . He preferred judo, to do like his older brother. Nevertheless: with the ball in his foot, he very quickly stunned his educators, also enthusiastic by his enthusiasm, his permanent good humor. These are all things that caught the eye of an educator from Stade Rennais in 2012, during a tournament.

A few months later, Eduardo signed with the Breton club. Which is good. His house has just been destroyed in a fire, the family is going through difficult times. His father Celestino means that he is the hope of his family, his mother and his five siblings. So Eduardo hangs on, and very quickly offers himself a spectacular first sequence.

Star or shooting star?

In December 2018, the signing of a professional contract with Rennes. Three months later, his first match in the top flight at Angers. He shines at the end of the season and the start of the next one, and here he is at the start of the 2019 school year with the Blues of Didier Deschamps. A first in the national jersey on September 8, in place of N’Golo Kanté, made him the youngest blue at 17 years, 9 months and 29 days. On October 7, against Ukraine, he planted his first goal. “He has this ability to use the ball which means that, despite his age, he exudes a lot of serenity”, admires the coach.

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“He’s a very good kid”, dubbed Olivier Giroud. The trajectory is staggering. For his integration with the Blues, the boy had taken over as hazing the song of a rapper: “I fight so that our lives are better, that we improve, that we are gold bars”.

Except that the Covid, the interruption of the championship and the resumption behind closed doors seem to break the good momentum. Last season, Eduardo Camavinga crosses it without much damage. In December 2020, however, he placed his interests in the hands of the English agency Stellar, one of the three largest players in the market, specializing especially in young people with high potential.

His had died out a bit, however. To the point that he missed the train for the Blues for the Euro. A real disappointment. Finally mitigated by this almost unexpected transfer to Real for more than 30 million euros, and until 2027.

Arrived in Madrid with all his family in his luggage, he obviously found renewed motivation in the proposed challenge. With Karim Benzema to play the big brothers, he shines and his good humor seduces the locker room. His beginnings are exceptional. He knows that his return to the Blues for the 2022 World Cup depends on his consistency. He is ready to come out on top.



Julian Alaphilippe makes cycling history

We will tell this race, in a few years, as the perfect counter-example of a tenacious legend concerning a supposed curse of the rainbow jersey, supposed to bring bad luck to its wearer: by hanging the champion’s tunic for the second time. of the world, the only French rider in history to have achieved such a feat, the man from Montluçon has given a scathing denial.

Julian Alaphilippe certainly had a less brilliant season this year with the tunic, but he still won the Flèche Wallonne and failed by a gut in second place in Liège-Bastogne-Liège. Not to mention a stage victory in the Tour de France and a yellow jersey as ephemeral as it is remarkable. It is a curse that many French or foreign runners would be happy to be satisfied with.

The weight of the rainbow jersey

Should we completely erase the weight of the tunic on the shoulders? The main interested party was the first to take it into account before the race, declaring in front of the media the whole and the opposite of the same reality. “I’m happy to put this jersey on”, he confessed to our colleagues The team, Saturday September 25. “I have never taken the start of such a relaxed world championship”, He also said in front of the television cameras, in Antwerp, when he got on his bike in the direction of Leuven.

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This is the second version of his speech which was confirmed on the asphalt. After spending twenty minutes shaking the peloton, he went uphill 17 km from the finish, three more than in the 2020 title, before escaping and keeping his opponents at bay. Some were visibly paralyzed by the stakes and faced with the decision whether or not to go in pursuit of the Frenchman, whom they only saw on the top step of the podium.

Perfectly sheltered by a French team entirely devoted to its two leaders, including the defending champion, and the much less known Florian Sénéchal, he had a wise and tactical journey lasting 230 km. Almost quiet and relaxed, if we can thus describe 268 kilometers traveled at a hellish pace driven by a Belgian team and its Wout Van Aert locomotive a little seized.

A feat very high in the history of French cycling

This feat places him very high in the hierarchy of world runners and sport in general. Since the post-war period, only five men have inscribed their names on the world champion’s trophy two years in a row. The latest, the Slovakian Peter Sagan, did even better, having won three times in 2015, 2016 and 2017, in turn fueling the legend of the Evil Eye, since his last title corresponds to the start of his decline.

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A victory for Frenchman Florian Sénéchal, another man from this fit French team, would have been surprising rainbows, like the titles of Laurent Brochard (1997) or Luc Leblanc (1994) on the shelf. But that of Julian Alaphilippe is similar to the titles of Bernard Hinault or Louison Bobet, at the peak of their art when they have worn the crown. It also sanctions the victory of a winning strategy by coach Thomas Voeckler, whose men started with a power-play, since the reigning world champion runs in addition to the other boys making up a selection.

His first words: “Never two without three”

The achievements of Julian Alaphilippe, man of one-day races rather than three weeks, is far from those of the hunters of great tours, but his name will henceforth remain engraved on the pediment of French cycling. Two world champion titles, in a row or not, no one other than him has done it in France since the creation of the championship, in 1927, since each of the French world champions has only one crown in his salon: Georges Speicher (1933), Antonin Magne (1936), Louison Bobet (1954), André Darrigade (1959), Jean Stablinski (1962), Bernard Hinault (1980), Luc Leblanc (1994), and Laurent Brochard (1997) .

Before the departure, he proclaimed his dream of “To be as before”, that is to say take the start of a race without the obligation to honor his tunic. For a year, I have been so keen, in each race, all the time, to honor it, that I added pressure to myself, unconsciously, and that made me make small mistakes ”, he said. He will have looked for an additional year of this happy ordeal? He even asked for more in front of France Télévisions cameras after the arrival. ” Never two without three “, he said, making an appointment for the future.


The 2025 Worlds in Rwanda

The International Cycling Union has formalized the holding of the World Road Championships in 2025 in Rwanda, a first for the African continent. The UCI Congress, meeting on the occasion of the Worlds in Flanders, welcomed this first bride since her election in 2017 by the President of the Federation, the French David Lappartient. All other continents have already hosted the World Road Championships. After Flanders, which hosted the competitions this week, the next editions will take place in 2022 in Australia, in 2023 in Scotland and in 2024 in Switzerland.