After the void suggested by their sporting relegation from Ligue 1 to Ligue 2, at the end of the last season, then their descent to the even lower floor, pronounced in mid-June because of their financial difficulties, the Girondins de Bordeaux are now approaching nothingness.
Tuesday, July 5, the administrative demotion of the club was validated by the appeal committee of the National Directorate of Management Control (DNCG), the body responsible for controlling the finances of French clubs. Bordeaux will therefore evolve in the national 1 championship at the start of the school year, the third division of French football, from which the clubs lose their professional status.
If the club with the scapular still has a third instance appeal to the National Olympic and Sports Committee (CNOSF) or to a judge in chambers of the Administrative Court to suspend this decision, its chances of competing in Ligue 2 seem low being given the time needed to study his case, from several weeks to several months. Well after the resumption of the season, scheduled for the end of July.
Towards a bankruptcy filing
“This unjust decision is unacceptable and incomprehensible (…). I will fight until the end and that is why we have decided to appeal against this iniquitous decision, ”said club owner Gérard Lopez in a press release, without specifying to whom. jurisdiction the appeal would be addressed.
The Girondins, historic formation of the elite in France, six times titled in Ligue 1, failed to find the sum of 40 million euros demanded by the DNCG. The financial guarantees provided by the club’s creditors – the American investment funds King Street and Fortress -, by President Gérard Lopez himself via his company Jogo Bonito and by several local players, such as Bordeaux Métropole, have been considered insufficient by the authority, which has not yet specified the reasons for its decision.
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The question of the survival of the club is no longer to be excluded, as its finances should suffer the consequences of this fall, losing its professional status and no longer being able to include television rights, reserved for residents of the first two divisions. With this in mind, the club could file for bankruptcy and start the next season in national 3, the fifth level, far from the promises made by Gérard Lopez when the Hispano-Luxembourg businessman became its president, there is a year.
To start bailing out the coffers, Bordeaux wants to part with the few players in its workforce to have distinguished themselves this season, such as the South Korean Hwang Ui-jo or the Honduran Alberth Elis. Many other departures are expected by the end of the transfer window in early September. The future buyer of the club founded in 1881 will inherit ruins to start building its site, as was the case in Strasbourg in 2011 or in Bastia five years ago.
On the Tour de France, this year, there is the race for time that the leaders will soon engage in as soon as the road rises. And there is the race for points. We are not talking here about those who distinguish the best sprinters and best climbers in the peloton, but about another battle which animates the teams, against the backdrop of reform of the International Cycling Union (UCI). Because the change desired by its president, David Lappartient, transforms the end of the current season into a key moment for the allocation of future World Tour licenses, the equivalent of the first division in the world of cycling. For the first time, these will be distributed on the basis of the team classification smoothed over the last three years, and will remain unchanged until 2025.
A few months from the ax, the hunt for points is open. The teams can reap some thanks to victories or places of honor on the races of the calendar. 18 formations will be selected, and, if the rules of the game have been known since the end of 2018, “The poorly ranked teams really became aware of the subject six months to a year ago, recognizes Vincent Lavenu, sports director at the French AG2R-Citroën. It took time to adapt to this new system, and there was the Covid…”
The stakes are high: a place in the World Tour guarantees teams to line up with the three major tours (France, Spain, Italy) and the rest of the most prestigious competitions, a possibility that can weigh in the balance time to conclude a transfer.
The Tour de France, less decisive
Any opportunity to go “look for points” has therefore become good to take, indicated Eusebio Unzué last month on the sidelines of the Critérium du Dauphiné. The Spanish manager of Movistar is one of the main concerned: 16e in the current hierarchy, his team is directly threatened by relegation to the Pro Tour, the antechamber of the elite which can only access the best dates on the calendar thanks to an invitation from the organizers. He then confided that he had asked veteran Alejandro Valverde – who remains one of his sure values at 42 – to add a few days of racing to his last season on the circuit.
On small competitions and not on the Tour de France, generally less decisive insofar as the teams which perform there are already at the top of the table, and a stage victory brings as many points as a title on a minor event deemed less difficult. With the risk that this new race for points replaces the spirit of the race, the real one. “Some teams have chosen to drop the World Tour races, where it is difficult to get points, and to favor the others”, notes Vincent Lavenu, while several teams present in July on French roads sent riders to Romania on the Sibiu Cycling Tour, from July 2 to 5.
Towards a reform of the scale?
“Before, it’s true, we said to ourselves “we’re going to a race to prepare for another”. Now you have to shine in all the races,” admits Cédric Vasseur, head of the Cofidis team, whose survival in the elite is not assured. However, the sports director of the Northerners affirms “not to have changed philosophy: it should not become an obsession either. The points are also brought by the good performances. We start to be under stress when we don’t perform, so we try to grab points. »
“The points are artificial. (…) I understand that the system was created with good intentions, but it is not fair, had insisted Eusebio Unzué, in favor of a revision of the scale. We need to think about how to make it more logical and deserving. » The UCI would be sensitive to this, especially since the health crisis began two years ago.“the legitimacy of this system”, notes Cedric Vasseur. ” How can we guarantee a classification under these conditions? It’s a bit like Russian roulette. »
Alpecin-Fenix and Arkéa-Samsic, two second division teams, being in good position to reach the elite, two current World Tour teams should be relegated at the end of the season. For the moment, it would be the Belgians of Lotto-Soudal and Israel-Premier Tech, even if five teams stand in less than 1,000 units.
The Tour returns to France
After its big departure from Copenhagen, Friday July 1, then a very well-attended weekend on the side of Danish roads, the peloton returns to French soil, Tuesday July 5, after a day of transit. The 171.5 km long fourth stage between Dunkirk and Calais should not upset the general classification, dominated by the Belgian Wout van Aert (Jumbo-Visma). Its rugged layout will take runners to a finish designed for punchers. The breakaways will nevertheless have to negotiate the last kilometers discovered by the sea, while the wind from Pas-de-Calais also raises the risk of breaks within the peloton grouped in the yellow jersey.
“Grass is good for the cows!” », railed Guillermo Vilas, a dominant tennis player in the 1970s but borrowed from the London lawn of Wimbledon. An enchanted parenthesis today, playing on grass was the norm yesterday when three of the four major Grand Slam tournaments on the tennis circuit were played on grass.
Since the end of the 1980s, the US Open and then the Australian Open have been played on “hard courts”. A fast surface par excellence, grass still enjoys its credentials in Great Britain, which still has more than 1,200 courts according to the British Tennis Federation.
Tennis: the very financial reform of the ATP world circuit
The queen surface across the Channel has never been democratized in France. The oldest grass court in France is located… at the British Embassy, in the heart of Paris. It is in this bucolic setting that handpicked personalities try their hand at the lawn mowed close to the ground – 5 to 7 millimeters high – to the tunes of Wimbledon-sur-Seine.
For the governing bodies of French tennis, the game on grass is not a priority. “We have never visited a club, we have never developed any particular expertise, because it is a surface that we do not do”, explains with lucidity Nicolas Maignan, equipment manager of the French Tennis Federation (FFT). The courts available represent only a tiny part of the 31,000 tennis courts in France.
Very expensive maintenance
The only grass courts belong to private structures. In addition to the British Embassy, Lagardère Paris Racing has three. The Moliets tennis club (Landes), yet a pioneer in the field, abandoned its two courts in 2021.
Destined to become an international center at the beginning of the 21st century, Moliets-et-Maa was equipped with the three surfaces (hard, grass, clay) of the Grand Slam tournaments, with the aim of attracting French players. in their preparation for Wimbledon. This project was nipped in the bud and the land was gradually abandoned by the licensees.
The particularity of the lawn is that it deteriorates very quickly and therefore requires pharaonic maintenance. Therefore, it can become impractical and any ambition for profitability is futile. “Per year, the grass courts brought us a maximum rental of €1,000”explains Frédéric Casenave, teacher at the Moliets club since 1989.
Profitability was one of the challenges of the Lawn tennis club of Deauville (Normandy) which had the project to create a “French Wimbledon”. In 2016, eleven natural grass courts came out of the ground in record time, with the ultimate goal of creating a professional tournament. But far from attracting the expected crowds, the club closed down three years later.
Cloister of greenery
Being played outdoors, the turf is also sensitive to the weather, which makes maintenance difficult. The daily regrowth must be monitored, the tracing of the lines must be regular: the courts are usable during the summer, “beyond that, it’s more difficult”says Frédéric Casenave. In September, for example, we made sure to play in the afternoon because with the morning dew, the supports gave way and the grass deteriorated. In October, it became unplayable ».
The charm of an English green does not, however, leave you indifferent. So, some use it for its shine. The castle of Villandry (Indre-et-Loire), renowned for its gardens, has the particularity of having a grass court since 2010. Bordered by a green cloister, visitors can lend themselves to a game on the lawn for a visit.
“Barefoot, or in shoes, we lend rackets and balls and they can play tennis, explains Henri Carvallo, owner of the castle. Fabrice Santoro (former French tennis player) even came to give a demonstration a few years ago. » On September 16, twelve companies will compete in a leisure tournament in the heart of the castle gardens, the only lawn tennis event in France for three years.
The great Danish start of the Tour de France 2022 ended on Sunday July 3, after a 182-kilometre stage between Vejle and Sönderborg. Dylan Groenewegen, Dutch rider from the BikeExchange Jayco team won in the sprint ahead of the yellow jersey Wout van Aert (Jumbo). The Belgian, second for the third time in a row, retains first place in the general classification.
The victory was decided in a nervous sprint after a quiet stage, during which the peloton was once again carried, all along, by a jubilant crowd. Dylan Groenewegen beat Wout Van Aert by a gut. The 29-year-old Dutchman took his fifth stage success in the Tour, which he had not run since 2019. He brought his total of victories to 62 since his debut at the highest level in 2016.
Behind, the Belgian Jasper Philipsen (Alpecin-Fenix) took third place ahead of the Slovak Peter Sagan (TotalEnergies), apparently unhappy not to have found the opening. The winner of the day before, the Dutchman Fabio Jakobsen, whose team was omnipresent, found himself locked up. He couldn’t do better than a fifth place.
Magnus Cort Nielsen’s Unforgettable Ride
For this last stage in Denmark before the transfer to France, the race turned into a long parade between two tight rows of spectators who celebrated the local Magnus Cort Nielsen, wearing the best climber’s polka dot jersey, then the peloton.
The Danish rider, who had already escaped the day before, isolated himself from the first kilometer to open the road with a lead that peaked at six minutes. He offered himself an unforgettable ride of some 130 kilometers, for this unprecedented incursion of the Tour into his country, in front of a peloton led by the main teams of sprinters (Quick-Step, Lotto, BikeExchange, Alpecin).
After the race, the runners planned to reach the airport of Sönderborg, a locality located near the German border, to reach the north of France by plane. The race will resume on Tuesday July 5 for the fourth stage in the Monts du Boulonnais, 171.5 kilometers of racing between Dunkirk and Calais.
Robin shouts in English into a microphone, in front of a van registered in the North. He sells official souvenirs of this Tour de France relocated to Scandinavia and cannot believe it. “It’s a crazy thing, he slips, between two commercial tirades. These Danes are crazy! There are people everywhere along the route and with each small climb, it’s like being in the Alps, I’ve never seen that. »
Denmark had never seen the Tour de France other than on television. So, for three days, he celebrated with overflowing and good-natured enthusiasm an event that he is not about to relive. Its population has deployed a continuous guard of honor along the roads and has organized a joyful saraband to make the Bretons or the Flemings jealous, who know a lot about the subject.
Tattooed bearded men with Viking heads, elegant women in long dresses, babies in red bobs, retired couples sitting on folding chairs. It’s as if the whole country was on his doorstep and a passing Frenchman has probably never seen so many smiling people. “That’s Denmark” explains a policeman, positioned in Vejle, Sunday July 3, at the start of the third and last stage in his country. He too smiles: “For people, it’s a big party. »
People everywhere within 200 kilometers
The party had started even before the departure, in Copenhagen, for the presentation of the Grande Boucle in a rock concert atmosphere. It continued the next day, Friday 1er July. You had to see this compact crowd, despite the rain, along the arteries of the Danish capital for the time trial. You also had to hear his cry. At the end of the effort, more than one competitor said that he had not been able to hear the advice of his sports director in the headset.
In Roskilde, for the second stage, Saturday July 2, other Danes had massed, as happy to applaud an advertising float touting an unknown Béarn as helmeted cyclists. A simple preamble. “It was very different from what I expected, reacted the Russian Aleksander Vlasov. I thought it would be crowded at the start and finish and maybe at times. But there were people all over the 200 kilometres. »
Two hours after the sprint finish, in Nyborg, there were still people singing and dancing, dressed in red polka dot T-shirts provided by a large French supermarket chain where they will never set foot. The festivities have resumed in Vejle. Kim Steen, 38, was behind the barriers with his family in the sun three hours before departure. He watches the Tour on TV, admits to prefer football ” to be honest “but he didn’t want to miss the show. “We have been deprived of big parties for two years”, he points out.
Beside him, Mette, his wife adds: “In Denmark, we like football, handball and cycling. » Charly Mottet, twice fourth in the Tour de France, in 1987 and 1991, knew what to expect. “For the Danes, the arrival of the Tour is historic and they love cyclingrecalls the former runner. I was technical delegate of the International Cycling Union when Mark Cavendish won the world championship in Copenhagen (in 2011, Editor’s note) and it had also been a big popular hit. »
“People are happy and proud to show their country”
Christian Prudhomme found himself taken back eight years, when a big start in English Yorkshire had already made an impression: “When we go abroad, we will look for enthusiasm, we will never go to a country where we are not sure of having it. But at that point… It was impressive, phenomenal. Smiles, smiles, smiles… It was the same for the mayor of Copenhagen, the transport minister, the crown prince. As far as big starts for fifteen years are concerned, this one is certainly on the podium with London in 2007 and Yorkshire in 2014. People are happy and proud to show their country, it shows. The Tour is also that, it brings people together. »
Ah, of course, there was the Covid to refresh the atmosphere a bit. The runners circulated with their faces masked in the areas reserved for them and they were instructed to avoid autographs and selfies. But the athletes on the lookout were not swallowed up by this disciplined human tide. Robin got back in his van to return to France: “Business has been good. But if it’s like that in France, we won’t hold out. »
Denmark is a flat archipelago where the wind serves as a mountain to slow Sunday cyclists and scatter professional Saturday runners. So when the organizers of the Tour de France heard about the Great Belt link, two successive bridges battered by sea air currents, they jumped at the chance to install it on their Danish route and spice up the second stage, drawn between Roksilde and Nyborg over 202.2 kilometers.
The Tour de France loves big departures abroad
The infrastructure, 18 kilometers long, has linked the country’s two main islands, Seeland and Funen, since 1998. It is cut to allow container ships as tall as buildings to pass through this strait. Its pylons are 254 meters high and can be seen from afar, like Chartres Cathedral in the Beauce plain or Mont Ventoux in the Comtat Venaissin.
A bridge conducive to “edges”
This Saturday, July 2, the windsocks were horizontal there, the Danes had massed at both ends and the followers were wondering about the possibility of a blow from maritime Trafalgar. The site is conducive to “borders”, these cuts in the peloton caused by side gusts. But the wind was rather from the front and the Great Belt gave birth to a mouse. Even a collective fall at the entrance to the bridge caused more fear than harm.
This stage finally ended with a massive sprint, which was not the scenario written in advance. Dutchman Fabio Jakobsen (Quick Step) took the opportunity to achieve his first success on the Tour, at the age of 25, for his first participation in the event. Just under two years ago he was in a coma, after nearly losing his life in a violent crash in the Tour of Poland in 2020.
The strong go-getter won ahead of Wout van Aert (Jumbo-Visna), who has not lost everything in history. This second place indeed allowed the Belgian, through bonuses, to take the yellow jersey from his compatriot Yves Lampaert. Last Danish stage of this Tour 2022, the peloton will leave Vejle on Sunday July 3 to reach Sonderborg, 182 kilometers further. A day promised to sprinters. Finally, in principle.
For a year, the young cycling team has been in the sights of the authorities. Bahrain training announced Thursday, June 30 to have been the subject of a new search at its hotel, the second in three days, while its riders take the start of the Tour de France Friday morning in Copenhagen.
According to the team’s leaders, the searches were carried out by the Danish police, at the request of the French investigators. “Officers searched all team vehicles, staff and riders’ rooms,” added Bahrain, who said he did not want to do “no further comments on the subject” : “The team is now looking forward to focusing on the greatest cycling race in the world, the Tour de France. »
A previous search
A previous police operation took place on Monday, June 27. The investigators then searched the homes of members of the Bahrain team in several countries. “The investigation into the members of the team, which began almost a year ago and has produced no results, continues just before the start of the most important cycling race, the Tour de France, and damages the reputation of individuals and the team,” immediately denounced the training.
Suspicions of doping surrounding the formation financed by the kingdom of the same name of the Persian Gulf date back to the previous edition of the Grande Boucle. During a stage in Pau, the investigators found traces of tizanidine in the hair analyzes of several of the team’s riders.
This powerful muscle relaxant used in the treatment of multiple sclerosis is not prohibited by anti-doping regulations. These revelations, which leaked to the press in October 2021, had been denied by Barhain, who claimed not to have been informed of the discovery by the laboratory.
The team director in the crosshairs
Of the ten riders lined up by Barhain on the Tour last year, only three of them will be present on the starting line again on Friday, including Slovenian Matej Mohoric and Belgian Dylan Teuns, both stage winners in 2021.
The group was completed by another Slovenian, Jan Tratnik, the Italian Damiano Caruso, second in the Giro 2021, the Spanish veteran Luis Leon Sanchez (38) and the Pole Kamil Gradek.
The team, whose one of the leaders, the Italian Sonny Colbrelli, had the misfortune to make a cardiorespiratory arrest last March which interrupted his career, has for general manager Milan Erzen. The Slovenian was suspected in 2020 in connection with a blood doping case. He called the charges “completely false”.
A late afternoon in Copenhagen. On the Queen Louise bridge, the parade of cyclists is uninterrupted. Women, men, blond hair, gray temples… The work is taken by an ultra-frequented cycle path, in the heart of a metropolis where more than 40% of daily trips are made by bicycle. Change of gear this Friday 1er July. The Tour de France peloton will pass through the same location for the northernmost kick-off in its history, from a Danish capital that has become a model city for urban cycling.
This is the event’s 24th “great start” outside France since the first experience of this type in 1954, and the 7e in twelve years: Rotterdam (Netherlands) in 2010, Liège (Belgium) in 2012, Yorkshire (United Kingdom) in 2014, Utrecht (Netherlands) in 2015, Düsseldorf (Germany) in 2017, Brussels (Belgium) in 2019 and therefore Copenhagen, one year late (1). Bilbao (Spain) is already scheduled for 2023 and the Italian press is talking about Florence for 2024. The exceptional is becoming a habit.
“It also helps to raise the stakes a bit”
Along with speeches on “the meeting between the biggest race in the world and the biggest cycling city in the world”, there is a more prosaic reality. “Hosting the Tour de France is more and more expensive and Copenhagen is obviously richer than Limoges”, summarizes the economist Wladimir Andreff, president of the scientific council of the Observatory of the economy of sport. “Abroad widens the panel of communities likely to be candidates”, also notes Carole Gomez, specializing in the geopolitics of sport at the Institute of International and Strategic Relations (Iris).
Hosting the big start on its soil – a formula with variable geometry, with several stages and the concomitant festivities – supposes paying this right to Amaury Sport Organization (ASO). The organizing company does not communicate figures. But Nice had revealed that it had paid 3.6 million euros, excluding taxes, for the 2020 edition. An equivalent sum was paid by the Brittany region last year. “Leaving abroad allows you to raise the stakes a little”, continues Jean-Pascal Gayant, professor at the University of Le Mans.
For these cities, the return on investment is not only measured in hotel nights, but also in minutes of television coverage. “The Tour is now a brand, with which they want to be associated, continues Carole Gomez. It is also an opportunity to send messages. There, it is in favor of soft mobility. » As for the financial stake for ASO, it does not stop at the contract signed with Copenhagen or Bilbao. The company derives the majority of its income from television rights (60%), a source far exceeding what local authorities pay (10%).
Renew landscapes to renew interest
However, running in Denmark for three days, filming its bridges and talking about its wind, is to refresh the staging and offer new landscapes to the spectators seated in front of a small screen. For many, the scenery matters more than the competition. ” We are in a world of extreme competition between sporting events, recalls Jean-Pascal Gayant. Going abroad makes it possible to accentuate the international visibility of the event and to establish its status, but also to arouse more interest, while not remaining too Franco-French. And generating more interest means more viewers, more television rights and more exposure for advertisers”.
The Tour de France is broadcast in 190 countries and the Danes are among the most frequent: the TV2 channel gathered 60.4% audience share in 2021 during the race, more than the results recorded in France (40%) . “ASO is a for-profit company, insists the sociologist Jean-François Mignot, who published a History of the Tour de France (Ed. La Découverte). Since its creation in 1903, the Tour has never stopped changing, always for commercial reasons. There is nothing to be ashamed of. That’s why the race still exists. At first, it was created to sell newspapers. Today, it is to reach viewers. »
This year, the Italian Giro started in Hungary and the Spanish Vuelta will start in the Netherlands. As for this Tour de France, these distant options suppose starting a day earlier than the usual Saturday and taking a plane to return to the “country”. To curb the traveling ardor of the organizers, the International Cycling Union has framed the trend. Grand tours can only start on a Friday – with transfer the following Monday – once every four years. For the teams, the operation generates an additional cost and complicates the logistics. “It puts a little stress on us, testifies Jean-François Bourlart, boss of the Belgian formation Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert. But it’s part of the game and the evolution of our sport, it’s not a concern. »
“The Tour de France is not the tour of France”
Former runner and sports director, now president of the Movement for Credible Cycling, Roger Legeay does not find much to complain about either. ” This is a good thing, he judges. The Tour de France is not the tour of France. It’s a global race, with an international peloton and partners who are very interested in this international dimension. In addition, it is legitimate to start from Denmark, a country where cycling is king, which loves the Tour and has good riders. The real subject of attention are the transfers. They have to be reasonable. »
By choosing Copenhagen, ASO did not go overboard. Could the big start be a day further away, as the Giro d’Italia did by opting for Jerusalem in 2018? ” That would not surprise me “, forward Wladimir Andreff. “The limit is not only logistical, it is also linked to the meaning of this kind of choice, esteems Jean-Pascal Gayant for his part. The Tour de France has a brand image that could be damaged by a very exotic start. The risk is to lose legitimacy in the eyes of spectators and television viewers. »
The other pitfall could be the debates on the carbon footprint of these trips. “The argument is not yet taken seriously by all the decision-makers in the sports sector, but it will very quickly prevail in my opinion, under pressure from civil society”, comments Carole Gomez. After renting the “gentle mobility” in Denmark, the members of the great Tour caravan will go up on Sunday in trucks, cars and planes to return to France.
Three days in Denmark
Divided into 22 teams, 176 riders will take the start of this 109th Tour de France. The route is 3,349.8 kilometers long. The final finish will be judged on Sunday July 24 in Paris.
Three stages are scheduled in Denmark. After a time trial in the streets of Copenhagen, the peloton will go from Roskilde to Nyborg on Saturday July 2, then from Vejle to Sonderborg on Sunday July 3. The Tour will then resume in Dunkirk on Tuesday 5 July.
The new health protocol of the International Cycling Union (UCI) no longer provides for the compulsory abandonment of any runner positive for Covid, if he is asymptomatic. A decision will be taken collectively by the doctors concerned (team, Tour and UCI).
For three days, the sun had been shining in the sky of Copenhagen and happy swimmers were diving into the inlets of the harbor. And then, this Friday, July 1, at 2:30 p.m., when the advertising caravan was snorting in the Danish capital, it started to rain. Dru. The downpour made the sellers of disposable plastic ponchos happy. It must have given chills to the sports directors of the riders, still sheltered in their buses while waiting for a 13.2 kilometer time trial drawn in the streets of the city.
Fear of slipping on wet macadam, skidding, bad fall, lost time, even abandonment, it has happened before… According to the weather forecast the day before, the rain was not expected before 5 p.m., one hour before the start of the first of the 176 registered. So, for this opening stage of the Tour de France, the strategists had taken their precautions: they had placed their leaders at the top of the day’s entry list to allow them to set off on a dry road. Bet failed.
Wout van Aert thought he had won
The Swiss Stefan Bisseger, one of the favorites of the day, was the first to tear his shorts on the tarmac. Without too much trouble, but a second bowl definitely put him out of the race for victory. The French Christophe Laporte, in the lead at the intermediate score, also found himself on the buttocks at the entrance of a bend. The most cautious, on the other hand, advanced without taking any risks, with the ambition of arriving wet but whole. The Belgian Wout van Aert then believed he had the winner’s bouquet in hand and the yellow jersey on his back.
His compatriot Yves Lampaert made him disillusioned by beating him by 5 seconds, at nearly 52 km/h. Aged 31, the Flemish rider of the Quick Step team had never known such an honor. But he had still been Belgian time trial champion twice, in 2017 and 2021. This farmer’s son also twice won Through Flanders, a semi-classic. But no one really saw him triumph in front of Van Aert and the Slovenian Tadej Pogacar, third with 7 seconds behind, in a city where the rain did not dampen the incredible fervor of the public.
The Danes will not see Julian Alaphilippe’s rainbow jersey on the roads of the Tour de France 2022, which starts this Friday July 1 in Copenhagen. But the public will witness the return to the event of two other Frenchmen who have already made the final podium in Paris: Romain Bardet, second in 2016 and third in 2017, and Thibaut Pinot, third in 2014. Two riders who have changed objective and are no longer aiming for the general classification.
Romain Bardet wants to run “offensively”
Romain Bardet, 31, had not returned since his retirement in 2020. “To be honest, I missed it last year”, he confided before the big departure. The Auvergnat also confirmed what he had already declared: he will “focus on the steps” and will not hesitate to put himself at the service of his teammates. “I’m going to run like we ran the Tour of Spain, he announced. Offensively. I will have my chance in the mountains. »
The former leader of AG2R, who now races for the German team DSM, shone in this Vuelta 2021 by winning at Pico Villuercas. He also demonstrated his good form last May on the Tour of Italy, before being forced by a virus to dismount. He then had to take the time to recover. “I have no certainty about my level, he acknowledges. It doesn’t detract from my motivation. But I want to run without thinking about tomorrow. »
Thibaut Pinot, as a “guardian angel”
The other tricolor headliner, Thibaut Pinot, is in a similar state of mind. He too has not reappeared in the Tour de France since his ordeal in 2020. Then a contender for the yellow jersey, he had been the victim of a fall which left a lasting mark on him. After a long break, the 32-year-old Franc-Comtois did not want to be leader of his lifelong formation, Groupama-FD: “Being the leader in the Tour de France is exhausting, you have to be ready in your head. ». And he is not.
Here it is now “guardian angel” of David Gaudu, according to the expression of Marc Madiot, the boss of their team. Between the two climbers, the roles were reversed. “It happened naturally. assures Thibaut Pinot. We weren’t fighting for leadership. David wanted it, he got it naturally.In my role, I will take more pleasure and I will be more useful to the team. »
David Gaudu, “podium objective”
David Gaudu will aim for the best possible place in the general classification. “The team is built around him, explained Marc Madiot. There is no rivalry, no opposition, there is no ulterior motive, we are all in the same boat and the goal is to attack the podium.. The manager does not doubt the qualities of his 25-year-old leader, nor of his teammates: “ We have nothing to envy to the others, we have shown in the big races this season that we are up to standard. »
The young Breton finished 11th in the 2021 edition. At ease in the mountains, this year he will first have to get through a first week without incident which promises to be full-bodied and tricky, with in particular the cobblestones of the North on Wednesday July 6 . But he did not depart from his usual calm in the pre-Tour press conference : “Marc has announced a podium objective, it seems high but if we don’t set high objectives, we won’t move forward. »
Guillaume Martin, for a first
As for the Frenchman best placed last year in the general classification, Guillaume Martin (8th – Cofidis), he hopes to finally be able to win the first stage of his career on the Tour de France. Warren Barguil (Arkéa-Samsic), he has already tasted this pleasure in 2017, twice. He arrives launched by an excellent start to the season, which notably saw him triumph at the Miguel Indurain Grand Prix in Spain.