League of Nations: the Blues revive the beautiful color of victory

When two great teams live up to their talent, football can provide a dazzling spectacle. France and Spain played at a very high level in the final of the League of Nations, this Sunday, October 10 in Milan. And a meeting without major stake in a competition with blunt relief made a duel with daggers drawn, ended with a stunning scenario and a magnificent victory of the Blues (2-1).

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

After a first half full of tension and tactical movements leaving little room for the expression of the artists, each engaged in efficient but grueling pressing, everything was packed after the hour of play. crazy, in just two minutes, started with a lightning attack from the Blues ended with a strike from Theo Hernandez which crashed into the Spanish crossbar. The best opportunity for the Blues, but the opposite goes very quickly to give an additional hand to the Spaniards. Who, in the same minute, open the scoring.

Jet Blues

The Blues can be knocked out, but no. It is quite the opposite which occurs, and immediately the men of Didier Deschamps retort with their rebel in chief: Karim Benzema. With a curled shot, the attacker finds the Spanish skylight, and as in the semi-final against Belgium (3-2), sounds the tricolor revolt. The rest is a feast of Kylian Mbappé passing his legs, the Spaniards who do not abdicate, two decisive stops by Hugo Lloris, and the Blues who take the trophy for the second edition of the event.

They thus end a very chaotic year. After the astonishing return of the ban Karim Benzema in the spring, an extremely disappointing Euro with the Blues often well below their potential and their claimed ambition, the start of the 2022 World Cup qualifying campaign revealing at the return of the Blues as emptied of all substance, Didier Deschamps’ men attacked this week dedicated to the last four of the League of Nations in an atmosphere where absolute confidence was not hovering.

Apparently lost players, a coach weighing much less than in the past, perhaps seeming at the end of the line: after 45 catastrophic minutes of the first duel of this Nations League against Belgium, with a scathing 0-2 in the table of ‘display, all the commentators were already sharpening their pens to tell the doldrums in which the France team was bathed. And the shadow of Zinédine Zidane already hovering above the Blues, because it needed at least that, a providential man, to raise the bar tomorrow.

An attack finally effective

Except that words were exchanged in the locker room between these Blues who were only a shadow of themselves. Didier Deschamps, Paul Pogba, Hugo Lloris, in turn, spoke hard, but fair. They whipped up common pride, and the same suddenly found themselves so different to offer a staggering turnaround.

The final against Spain did not obey the same scenario, but it was once again the Blues in reaction who provided the show. As if this team had to be stung before asserting its character. Victory undoubtedly does not solve everything and does not offer total guarantees for the continuation of the 2022 adventure. The offensive capacities of the famous Mbappé-Benzema-Griezmann trio are finally expressed, even if Antoine Griezmann still appears a tone below these two teammates.

For the first time since the epic on the roof of the world in Russia in 2018, something really emerges from this French team. Something that looks like a newfound confidence, a truly shared involvement. The angry fist, then the big smile of Didier Deschamps at the end of the meeting speak well of the relief of the man. He too must be fully revitalized, before attacking what should be his last year in office until the World Cup in Qatar. Strongly the continuation.



Tour de France 2021: pale Blues hope to revive their color in the Pyrenees

July 14 is breaking out, but on the side of the tricolor peloton, it is still not the fireworks. At the time of entering the third week and a Pyrenean sequence which already gives the shivers, the state of mind is roused on a roller coaster, like the weekend that the best current Frenchman has just spent, Guillaume Martin.

→ ANALYSIS. Tour de France 2021: in Andorra, cycling, rest, taxes

On Saturday, the very opportunistic rider Cofidis slips into the right breakaway and wins the bet: a big leap forward in the standings, and he is now second overall. Applause. But the climber knows he left some feathers in the case. Confirmation Sunday. Guillaume Martin, without really getting stuck in the climb to Andorra, misses the right wagon, loses precious minutes, and tumbles down at 9e place, almost eight minutes from the yellow jersey. A blow for nothing, or not far.

“A Crazy Tour”

Provisional assessment: Julian Alaphilippe in yellow on the first stage, and Guillaume Martin in a flash on the podium. “Some slack years, we would have been content with that, comments Pierre Rolland, 41e to the general. And you have to see that the level is very, very high this year ”.

The manager of the AG2R-Citroën team asks for the same kindness, and is a little annoyed by the eternal lamentations over national performances: “We always take as a reference the 1980s of Bernard Hinault’s triumph, but cycling is absolutely not the same. There were only five or six nations playing together, when today adversity comes from everywhere, from South America, Australia, Slovenia, Denmark. In an unbridled race, where every day around thirty guys are able to win the stage, the French are not totally abandoned ”.

→ THE ROUTE. Find the map of the 2021 Tour de France stages

Just a little inside, placed but nothing more, like a Julian Alaphilippe often in good shots, but ultimately extra luxury. On the strength of his experience with his twelve participations in the Grande Boucle, Pierre Rolland does not look for excuses but underlines the difficulty of this edition. “In terms of intensity, this is undoubtedly the most difficult Tour that I have run, estimates the climber of the B & B Hotels training. Everyone gives their all without thinking about the next day, as if it was the end of the world. The transition stages are happening at breakneck speeds ”.

Back in shape after gastric problems, David Gaudu (14e overall), attacking Sunday and seventh in the stage, remains stunned by this Tour de dynamisseurs. “It’s a non-stop fight, at different levels, except maybe for the yellow jersey. The other rankings are far from certain, there is so much to gain, with all the teams wanting to show off, that it’s a crazy Tour. Which pulls a lot on the organisms ”.

The quest for a beautiful escape

Out of breath, the French? Many of them have laid down their arms, often after having followed a series of blows of fate, such as the climber Warren Barguil, forced to retire for the first time since 2015 after three nasty falls, or the sprinter Nacer Bouhanni, also having bitten the asphalt, lowered from the saddle this Sunday before going to Andorra. But they have not all given up. David Gaudu is biding his time to restore the image of his rather dull Groupama-FDJ team for the moment.

Ambush at the 12e place in the general classification, Aurélien Paret-Peintre does not lack ambition for his first participation in the Tour. He checked the 16e stage this Tuesday July 13 between Pas-de-la-Case and Saint-Gaudens. “It is the last possibility of escaping, before two successive arrivals at the top, which will undoubtedly be controlled by the big teams, in particular the Ineos who have still not won anything., he analyzes. With temperatures lower than announced, all the ingredients are there, especially since I feel pretty good. “

→ ANALYSIS. Tour de France 2021: the Ineos-Grenadiers team has a series of wet firecrackers

Will the AG2R-Citröen rider be in the right wagon? “It’s always complicated to get on board”, he smiles. His roommate Benoît Cosnefroy says no better. Last year, he had worn the polka-dot jersey for the best climber for two weeks, between the second and the sixteenth stage. A savored luck. Today is 95e to the general. “It’s really not easy to shed light on the Tour de France. “ Effectively.


July 14, unique stage

A handsome winner up there, perched at the top. This is the idea that we have of a beautiful stage for a July 14th. In the last twenty years, it has indeed been played 13 times in the mountains, which is trending. But the race is not necessarily tied in the laces. And if the runners do well in the clouds on Wednesday at the Col du Portet (2,215 m), the last debates on the National Day in 2018 and 2019 took place on the flat.

Since 1947, July 14 has even allowed itself some originalities. Days of rest (in 1956, 1973, 1977, 1984 and 1994) or rides against the chronometer in 1961, from 1964 to 1967, in 1978 and 1982. The period 1964-1967 was particularly unique: the time trials were held during the last stage, which then arrived at the Parc des Princes. And on the last, in 1967, the stage victory went to a certain Raymond Poulidor.



At the head of the next Worlds, Perrine Pelen intends to “revive the taste for skiing”

A sign of fate after this white season for alpine ski resorts, the new track on which most of the men’s races in Courchevel 2023 will take place has been named L’Éclipse (1). “ It evokes the sun at the top and the shadow of the route in the trees on which the skiers will set off ”, explains Perrine Pelen, 60, patron of one of the three major sporting events that will punctuate 2023 and 2024 on French soil: the World Ski Championships, the Rugby World Cup and the Olympic Games.

Alpine skiing in competition with biathlon

“We will open the ball, and with great responsibility because the model of alpine skiing has been severely impacted by the health crisis. But he will rise again she believes, because people need sport, clean air and the mountains more than ever ”. These Courchevel-Méribel Worlds also have the mission of reviving the interest of the French in alpine skiing competitions, a discipline that is not very environmentally friendly and in competition with biathlon and other less mechanical specialties, such as free-style. The former champion relies in particular on Alexis Pinturault. The leader of the World Cup, double medalist at the Cortina Worlds, was trained like her in Courchevel and, if all goes well, will still be on track for “her” Worlds.

Before becoming the best slalom rider of her generation, Perrine Pelen knew the slopes of the famous Savoy resort well as a child. Her parents, settled in Grenoble, had bought a chalet there for their eight children – Perrine is the 7e. After her retirement from sports in 1986, she left the resort, giving up a course mapped out by her physiotherapy diploma in favor of a career in sports and tourism marketing. A radical change of course, linked to his meeting with the two men who would change his life: Michel Barnier and Jean-Claude Killy, bosses of the 1992 Albertville Games, who had entrusted him with the management of the Olympic village.

“A return to the sources”

After the Games, for nearly thirty years, Perrine Pelen worked in tourist and sporting events in Savoie and Haute-Savoie. But “Never in skiing”, she specifies, before adding that the responsibility for the 2023 Worlds is therefore ” back to basics ”, in his sport and his “Heart station”. “After the Worlds I will be 63 years old, I will be able to bow out”, continues this mother of four.

Until then, many challenges stand in its way, including the thorny issue of the environment. The Trois Vallées area, one of the most equipped in the world, is often criticized for its aggressive development policy. This was still the case recently, when a road was drawn in the middle of the mountains, during a passage of the Tour de France. “All the work that we have undertaken is compensated for and we have avoided as much as possible the felling of trees to trace the track”, she defends herself today.

Still 6 million euros to find

There is also a delicate financial equation, given the lack of visibility linked to the pandemic. We still need 6 million euros (ticketing, hospitality, derivative products) to complete the budget of 43 million (2) for an event supposed to project winter tourism in the two Savoys into the future. “Of course, world championships cannot compete with the Olympic Games, but I learned from Michel Barnier and Jean-Claude Killy that sport can serve the general interest”, she said before leaving Cortina d’Ampezzo to find her office in Courchevel at the end of February. Located – quite a symbol – at the foot of the 1992 Games jump.