Women’s Tour de France: with Annemiek van Vleuten, the Netherlands flew over the race

As expected, the epilogue of this Tour de France Women took place in the Vosges, during the only two mountain stages concocted by the organizers. And as expected, Annemiek van Vleuten crushed the pedals to outwit the competition. The number of the Dutchwoman was still enough to disconcert the peloton and the observers. Saturday July 30, first. Starting alone 65 kilometers from the finish, the Movistar runner had widened the gaps in the ascent of the Grand Ballon pass, relegating her compatriot Marianne Vos, yellow jersey at the start, to more than twenty minutes. More than the stage victory, the climber of almost 40 years had knocked out the general classification and had made sure, barring an accident, of winning the event.

This mattress acquired, she only had to manage her effort during the eighth and last day between Lure and the Super Planche des Belles Filles, Sunday July 31, to secure the final victory. But here again, van Vleuten went on the offensive, flying from the foot of the last ramp in front of a small group running out of solution. With this new demonstration at the top of the Super Planche des Belles Filles, the Movistar rider adds her name to the winners of the women’s Grande Boucle, back after three decades of absence. “I didn’t even believe it was possible after being so sick, she had savored on the eve of the arrival, diminished at the start of the week by a gastrointestinal virus. I came so close to quitting the race, it’s a small miracle. »

Juliette Labous fourth

Three weeks after Annemiek van Vleuten’s success in the Giro Rosa, the women’s version of the Tour of Italy, this 2022 edition of the Women’s Tour de France confirms the current domination of the Netherlands in women’s cycling: the Dutchwoman Demi Vollering, appeared as the only one able to compete, only one time, with van Vleuten, finished the race on the second step of the podium, when Marianne Vos (Jumbo-Visma) spent four days in yellow and pocketed two stages, and Lorena Wiebes ( Team DSM) dominated two sprint finishes, including the inaugural stage on the Champs-Elysées on Sunday July 24.

France will have to wait before finding an heiress in Jeannie Longo, triple winner in the last Tour de France to have been organized by Amaury Sport Organization, the historic manager of the men’s Tour, from 1984 to 1989. She has with Juliette Labous , (Team DSM), first Habs in the general classification (4th, at 7 minutes 28 s) of a serious candidate for the final victory in the years to come.

Level differences still too great

The director of the Tour and former runner Marion Rousse can be satisfied while waiting for several successes, including the audiences. The eight days of racing gathered an average of 2 million viewers on France Télévisions, the broadcaster of the event, or half of the figures collected three weeks earlier on the men’s Tour. Perhaps seduced by a few innovations, such as the possibility, in the manner of Formula 1 races, of listening live to the instructions received in their headsets by the runners, 2.7 million people followed Saturday the penultimate step in front of their post.

Certain modalities of the event, however, still need to be refined to avoid the repetition of massive falls observed this year in future editions. “Differences in level cause a lot of incidentsincluded Stephen Delcourt, the manager of the French team FDJ-Suez-Futuroscope whose co-leader Marta Cavalli had been eliminated on the second day of racing after a crash. Our sport is not mature, there are big differences in level and that’s normal. I understand that ASO wanted to support certain teams by having them take part in this great race, but there are cyclists who don’t have the experience. »

There also remains the frustration, expressed by several riders, of not having been able to run a less telegenic time trial or very high mountain stage in the Alps and the Pyrenees, i.e. the two traditional justices of the peace of the men’s race. “This year, it was very important to be attractive. But we don’t forbid ourselves to put some in the next few years, ” recalled Marion Rousse.



With the Tour de France, women’s cycling on the right trajectory

Fans of the little queen plagued by post-Tour blues can cheer up. The Tour de France 2022 ended well on Sunday July 24 with the parade in yellow by Dane Jonas Vingegaard, but another Grande Boucle took over the same day on the Champs-Élysées. After three decades of absence, the women’s Tour de France returns this week to follow the opposite route to the men’s and finish its race in the Vosges, at the top of the Planche des Belles Filles (read the marks)Sunday, July 31.

If the event is deprived of the Alpine and Pyrenean reliefs, i.e. the traditional justices of the peace for the men’s event, it is because the 2022 edition represents the first draft of what the female counterpart of the Tour sees itself becoming in the next seasons. “One day we will go to very high mountains”, promised race director and retired peloton Marion Rousse.

For this trial run, Amaury Sport Organization (ASO) is using a recipe born in 1955 and tested a little longer from 1984 to 1989 by the Société du Tour de France, the historic organizer of the race. Dropped by ASO from the 1990s until 2009, the competition remained against the tide before seeing its format reduced to a single stage, contested as a curtain raiser to the men’s race for seven years.

Minimum wage and maternity leave

But the Tour captures this year women’s cycling in a state of professionalization never seen before. “At the time, we didn’t even have the status of professional riders”, retains Marie-Françoise Potereau, who took the start of the six women’s Tour de France in the 1980s alongside Jeannie Longo (triple winner in the jersey of the French team) “while having to work on the side as a ski instructor or sports instructor”. The current vice-president of the French Cycling Federation (FFC), in charge of the plan to feminize the discipline, dates back to a handful of years the structuring of cycling for women, and in particular to 2016.

This is the season in which the International Cycling Union (UCI) launched the World Tour, the equivalent of a world first division. The number of teams will increase to the 14 recognized this year, in particular thanks to the support of nine of the sponsors attached to the men’s elite teams. As in France with the FDJ-Nouvelle Aquitaine-Futuroscope, the only one present in the World Tour, and the female version of the most successful tricolor team among men, or Cofidis, set up this season at the lower level.

Supplemented by an extended calendar for the main one-day races, like the first women’s Paris-Roubaix, these cash inflows have sufficiently inflated the ecosystem for a minimum wage to be introduced in 2020. And this one should be increased to €32,000 next season, the equivalent of what the rider of a second division men’s team receives. Added to this is the possibility of benefiting from maternity leave and access, since 2021 for French women, to health insurance and social security.

11,624 licensed in France

But beyond the World Tour, such progress is still pending. Without going so far as to speak of women’s cycling at two speeds, Jean-Christophe Barbotin acknowledges that “the UCI is not going fast enough to professionalize second division teams”, like that of the Stade Rochelais which he founded eight years ago. In the only French team not dependent on a male formation – “which explains why she was only recognized as a professional in 2019” –, the manager is also suffering the consequences of the still timid interest of French women in cycling, while the FFC only counted 11,624 licensees last year. “To build the team, I have no choice but to include foreign riders. »

Invited to the Tour, the fifth French team “economically had to be present there”, breathes Jean-Christophe Barbotin, who intends to reap the benefits of the world exhibition offered this week. For the first time, each stage of the race will be broadcast unencrypted on France Télévisions and broadcast in 190 countries. Enough to aim for three objectives, by allowing the event to become profitable in the short term, which had been lacking in its previous versions, but also to “to make young girls want to cycle and clubs to invest, considers Marie-Françoise Potereau. The performance of the new French generation, the first to have known only professional structures, could help them. »



Women’s Tour de France: Dutchwoman Lorena Wiebes, first yellow jersey

Dutch sprinter Lorena Wiebes won the first stage of the women’s Tour de France on Sunday July 24 in Paris and is wearing the first yellow jersey of this women’s Grande Boucle. Wiebes was more powerful than her compatriot Marianne Vos to win on the Champs-Élysées where Belgian Lotte Kopecky took third place in the final sprint.

The legend Oranje Marianne Vos, triple world champion (2006, 2012 and 2013), launched the sprint from afar to try to win on the Parisian avenue, as in 2014 when she won the first edition of La Course by The Tour on these same cobblestones.

But Wiebes, well placed in the final bend, was not surprised in this twelfth lap of the circuit around the Tuileries gardens and on the Champs-Élysées that the men will take at the start of the evening. “The girls did an amazing job”praised Wiebes at the end of the 82 km. “I was able to accelerate again to pass Marianne on the line. »

52nd success of his career

At 23, the DSM rocket already signs the 52nd success of her career, the 16th this season. Only Italian world champion Elisa Balsamo was able to deprive her of success in a sprint this year, and only twice. But the wearer of the rainbow jersey, less well positioned, could not defend her chances on Sunday (7th).

Thanks to the game of bonuses, Wiebes has a four-second lead in the general classification over Vos before the 2nd stage between Meaux and Provins on Monday (136.4 km) where they will only be 143 at the start. The Belgian Alana Castrique (Cofidis) was forced to retire after a fall about ten kilometers from the finish.

Like a handover, Jeannie Longo, winner of three editions, the last of which with the Tour de France appellation in 1989, accompanied the race director Marion Rousse at the time of the real start on Sunday.



Tour de France: Jonas Vingegaard and the triumph of Jumbo-Visma

Tears, and more tears. Endless hugs. Jonas Vingegaard, hardly the line crossed, golden tunic assured, in tears in the arms of his wife Trine and his daughter Frida. Wout van Aert, stage against the clock conquered, big guy who collapses on the shoulder of Richard Plugge, the general manager of his Jumbo-Visma formation. Then the green jersey and the yellow jersey who meet and congratulate each other for a long time, with great pats on the back.

There was emotion to spare, this Saturday, July 23 in Rocamadour, at the arrival of the penultimate meeting of the Tour. Because the nerves were giving way too, after three grueling weeks, and because the essential was done, in style. The Belgian ogre in front of the Danish climber and their Slovenian opponent Tadej Pogacar, the perfect summary of this Grande Boucle 2022: the Jumbo-Visma in front, the others behind.

Jonas Vigegaard, pattern size

It was not written at the start of Denmark. Most observers were betting big on Tadej Pogacar (UAE Emirates), double reigning winner and conqueror since the start of the season. Jonas Vingaard? Wasn’t he a bit too tender, the 25-year-old champion, a nice boy who never dared speak louder than another? And where did he come from, this sweet Scandinavian, who went almost unnoticed before finding himself on the front of the stage, second in the Tour after the abandonment of his leader Primoz Roglic in 2021?

From a time when he pedaled without confidence, too anxious to really break free, with the paralyzing fear of doing wrong. He said it, however: the Tour 2021 had changed him, revealing in his own eyes all his potential. Who really believed him? Certainly his team. It only took a few days, confirmed by the astonishing takeover at the top of the terrible Col du Granon, to understand that the boss-size suit was not so bad for the Danish weakling. His rival Tadej Pogacar could make the powder talk and win three stages, it was Jonas Vingegaard who put his mark on the Tour, “on the pedal” as the experts say.

Wout van Aert, insatiable troublemaker of the Tour de France

And with the help of an overpowered team collecting this year the yellow, the green, the best climber’s polka dot jersey and the title of “super combative” for Wout van Aert. In Rocamadour, between two sobs, Jonas Vingegaard, commenting on the general fever, told a man’s story: “It shows how close we all are in this team, and that something special unites us. These guys are really my friends, brothers even I might say. » A group of friends, who, before arriving on the Champs-Élysées, had six stage victories to their name, including the only French one, Friday July 22 in Cahors, for Christophe Laporte.

Performances that leave you skeptical

According to the management of Jumbo (a chain of supermarkets)-Visma (a management software), everything is in the “professionalization” of the team. Christophe Laporte precisely, ex-Cofidis recruited in the fall, abounds: “Everything is calculated, nothing is left to chance: the preparation, the nutrition, the equipment. »

Let’s take this last example: more bicycles on board than the other teams (about twenty in addition), lighter (it is played at a few tens of grams), undoubtedly more expensive (15,000 € per jewel). Management, in fashionable managerial jargon, also evokes “involvement” troops in the collective project. It is a question of “total cycling”, in reference to the “total football” of all-out attack worn by Ajax Amsterdam since the 1970s.

Explanations that annoy a bit on the side of the other teams. Cédric Vasseur, the manager of Cofidis, translates the general feeling well: “On the preparation, we are not amateurs and the explanations on their superior rigor are not admissible. The difference comes mainly from their ability to recruit very good runners. But that they ride for all the awards at once and get them, I’ve never seen that in cycling. I need hindsight to analyze such domination. »

So inevitably, the specter of doping lurks, as with each exceptional performance. Tadej Pogacar raised many questions before. It’s now Jonas Vingegaard’s turn to face the ambient skepticism: “We are clean, I can guarantee it to you all, he said on Saturday. No one does anything illegal with us. » We only ask to believe it.


The Women’s Tour takes over

They were 144, this Sunday July 24 on the Champs-Élysées at the start of the women’s Tour de France, which offers eight stages for its return until the ascent of the super Planche des Belles Filles on Sunday July 31. A long-awaited rebirth by female riders, lacking a large-scale competition since the first versions of the Tour in the 1980s. Since the Grande Boucle run as a curtain raiser for the men’s event from 1984 to 1989, then of the women’s EEC which only had four editions from 1990 to 1993, the champions had little more than the Course by the Tour – over one day since 2014, programmed by the organizers of the Tour – to get their teeth into. The objective, with this revival, is to succeed in perpetuating the event. Dutch sprinter Lorena Wiebes won the first stage in Paris and is wearing the first yellow jersey.



Tour de France: Christophe Laporte, first Frenchman to win a stage

The 19th stage of the Tour de France ends (finally) with a French victory. Christophe Laporte (Jumbo Visma) is the first rider to cross the finish line on Friday July 22 in Cahors, during a flat stage serving as a transition between the Pyrenean triptych and the time trial scheduled for Saturday July 23 in Rocamadour.

The Belgian Jasper Philipsen (Alpecin-Deceunick), and the Italian Alberto Dainese (Team DSM) then came to complete the podium.

While the Tour de France ends on Sunday July 24, the general classification has not changed: Jonas Vingegaard (Jumbo Visma) retains the yellow jersey (and the polka dot jersey), more than three minutes ahead of Tadej Pogacar and eight minutes on Geraint Thomas (Ineos Grenadier).

The 188 kilometers separating Castelnau-Magnoac and Cahors were not very lively and the rest of the general classification was not shaken either: the Frenchman David Gaudu retained fourth place, ahead of Nairo Quintana, whom he had passed the day before. .

An interruption was however marked 157 kilometers from the finish due to a demonstration on the road, as during the Megève stage. The gap between peloton and the breakaway was calculated and the riders left in the same positions.

A Frenchman in place of another

The breakaway did not survive for long and only the American Quinn Simmons (first in the intermediate sprint) tried to hold on. The youngest of the competition finally abdicated, 35 kilometers from the finish. His solitary getaway nevertheless earned him the bib of the most combative runner of the day.

The white jersey Tadej Pogacar attempted a small attack a few kilometers further, taking advantage of the aspiration of Alexis Gougeard. The hope of victory quickly vanished on this ground not conducive to widening gaps and the Slovenian was quickly overtaken by the great Wout van Aert, assured of keeping the green jersey.

Alexis Gougeard stayed ahead of the race alongside Briton Fred Wright (Bahrain Victorious), Belgian Jasper Stuyven (Trek-Segafredo). But the teams wishing to see their sprinter go for the victory worked together at the front of the peloton to close the gap with the leading trio.

The Lotto-Soudal, QuickStep-AlphaVinyl and TotalEnergies teams thus took turns before catching up with the three riders, destroying Alexis Gougeard’s chances of victory. He will be fortunately replaced by another Frenchman, who escaped victoriously from the peloton 1.5 kilometers from the finish.



Wout van Aert, insatiable troublemaker of the Tour de France

Model teammate: this is not the role that Wout van Aert prefers, but he bends to it, at least on these sawtooth Pyrenean stages. We thus saw the lieutenant of the yellow jersey, Wednesday July 20, at the start of the penultimate ascent to Peyragudes, grabbing the supply bag and distributing the cans to the other members of the Jumbo-Visma formation.

Once the division is made, he can let go and let the last brave fight for the win. When he arrived up there, 50e 21 minutes and 21 seconds behind duettists Tadej Pogacar and Jonas Vingegaard, he does not seem totally exhausted. He even minimizes his outlay: “After all, when I was dropped, I think there were only the top 15 in the general classification in front of me, more or less. »

A guaranteed green jersey

Do not imagine that at the end of the Tour de France, the twirling Belgian is strawberries. The proof ? Before the slope steepened, Wout van Aert applied himself to collecting points for his green jersey: 416 in total, the tunic belongs to him, mathematically, if he joins Paris. He could be content with that. But that’s not his style. This Thursday, July 21, on the way to Hautacam, he applied himself to putting on a layer, at the front of the entrance and almost to the end, until finally playing the rocket allowing to put into orbit his Danish champion by taking off a breathless Tadej Pogacar. Monstrous Van Aert.

Who could well push the cork even further. This trip of 188 km to Cahors, this Friday, July 22, for example? Who knows. Or more surely this final time trial on Saturday 23rd? Wout van Aert already has two stage victories this year. In 2021, he had devoured three, including the one timed before the Champs-Élysées, beating Jonas Vingegaard by 32 seconds.e and by 57 seconds a Tadej Pogacar arrived 8e. He can therefore still play his part over the 40 km between Lacapelle-Marival and Rocamadour. See finishing with a bang in a final triumphant sprint on the Champs-Élysées.

He is like that, Wout van Aert: insatiable, to the point of sometimes causing misunderstanding. Everyone applauds his solo number on 4e stage (Calais-Dunkirk) when, then in yellow, he beats the pawn to the whole peloton on his heels. But everyone wonders when he jumps for no reason in the breakaway of the 15e stage (Rodez-Carcassonne), before his race director curbed his enthusiasm. Too impulsive, the Belgian?

Especially too strong to play only the perfect second of the leader of his formation. At the dawn of the Tour, many commentators wondered about the desire of the Jumbo-Visma to run on two tables for the yellow and green overcoats. “When you have a rider of the caliber of Wout van Aert in your ranks, it is not possible to contain your personal aspirations indefinitely, and I believe that the management of the Dutch team had no other choice than to authorize the Belgian to run for the green jersey”, underlined the German Erik Zabel, six times in a row at the top of the points classification between 1996 and 2001.

A future winner of the Tour?

In fact, Wout van Aert continues to expand over time. On the Tour, he loads his musette: two stages in 2019 (but a retirement at the 13e), two in 2020, three in 2021, two for the time being but a first yellow jersey, worn for four days, in 2022. At the end of the first week, then again after the second, the Antwerp resident was elected “combative intermediate » and could well finish « super-combative of the Tour » on the Champs, as he seems to still have some under the pedal. After the Pyrenees, he is in 23rd place in the general classification. Since the beginning of the century, no green jersey has arrived in Paris doing better than 42e (Peter Sagan in 2012). Last year, Mark Cavendish finished 139e. The normal low water level for point hunters is most often above 100e square.

Not for Wout van Aert. “He embodies the most complete rider in the current peloton”, Erik Zabel still dared before the start. “He is a rider who marks the history of cycling”, judged for his part Andy Schleck, winner of the 2010 Tour, after the first week. Can the versatile 27-year-old progress further and claim to win the Tour one day? With its size (1.87 m), it is far from the current guns that allow you to win in the mountains. But a certain Miguel Indurain, five-time winner of the Grande Boucle (from 1991 to 1995) showed the same. So who knows?

(Archives – Video of 07/17/2019)



Tour de France: Vingegaard at the top

The ground was conducive to a final tussle between the first two in the general classification this Thursday, July 21. At the end of the last high mountain stage in this Tour de France, made up of two hors category passes, it was the yellow jersey Jonas Vingegaard who won. He won his second victory on the tour and at the same time won the best climber’s polka dot jersey.

At the end of the 143 kilometers separating Lourdes from the summit of Hautacam at 1,520 meters above sea level, the yellow jersey crossed the finish line in front of his opponent Tadej Pogacar and his teammate Wout van Aert, without having shown the slightest difficulty. At the same time, he ensures that he finishes in yellow on the Champs-Élysées, barring a last-minute incident.

A noble fight between the two champions

The same duel as the day before was played out between the two favorites from the second half of the second pass (without a teammate for either of them this time). Tadej Pogacar (UAE Team Emirates) harassed his opponent by attacking him several times in a row in the Col de Spandelles. Despite his insistence, Jonas Vingegaard (Jumbo Visma) did not relax his attention and adapted to each of his accelerations.

The Slovenian didn’t just challenge him uphill. By wanting to stick to his wheel and ignoring safety distances, Jonas Vingegaard put himself in danger on the descent. But Tadej Pogacar himself left the road a few meters lower. On his return to the wheel of the yellow jersey, the handshake exchanged between the two risk-taking enthusiasts did not symbolize a non-aggression pact.

The peace respected in the rest of the descent has indeed crumbled in the last climb, where Sepp Kuss, teammate of the yellow jersey imposed a hellish pace. The powerful tempo during this pass of arms, made it possible to catch up with the breakaway composed of Wout van Aert and Philippe Martinez. In the end, it was the yellow jersey that proved to be the most enduring and a single attack was enough to outrun its runner-up as it approached the finish line.

An imperial green jersey

But it is indeed Wout van Aert who will mark the spirits at the end of this stage. The Belgian from the Jumbo Visma team attacked from the start. In a small breakaway, he crossed the first summit (col d’Aubisque) in third position before leading the dance on the second ascent and crossing the summit in the lead.

Already assured since the day before of winning the green jersey of best sprinter (provided he finishes the Tour), the Belgian has not calmed down his pedal strokes. However, he was not the best climber in the breakaway, but he was the one who led his two opponents (Thibaut Pinot and Philippe Martinez), without any relay in the climb of the second pass.

After waiting for his teammate for the yellow jersey, he will finally be left behind by the two favorites in the last kilometers of the last ascent. The quality of his performance earned him third place and the prize for the most combative runner.

Bardet downgraded, Gaudu promoted

The two French present in the top 10 will not have managed to keep pace. David Gaudu, in fifth position, after having cracked a little at the start, still snatched fourth place in the general classification, relegating Nairo Quintana to fifth.

At the back, Romain Bardet was once again expected by two of his teammates, but that was not enough. The Frenchman tumbles two places and is now in eighth position in the general classification.

The end of the Tour promises to be calmer and even the time trial on Saturday cannot upset the top of the classification where Jonas Vingegaard now has a lead of nearly 3 mn 30 over the nearest pursuer. The final finish will take place on the Champs-Élysées on Sunday July 24.



Tour de France: Pogacar winner in the Pyrenees, Vingegaard still in yellow

Tadej Pogacar won the second stage of the Pyrenean triptych, in a scathing final on a 16% slope. In this third and final week of the Tour de France, the Slovenian from the UAE Emirates team beat the yellow jersey Jonas Vingegaard (Jumbo Visma) by a few centimeters, after 130 lively kilometers, punctuated by three first category passes and 4 000 meters of elevation.

The winner of the previous edition of the “big loop” won his third stage on this Tour, despite a battered team where there are only three survivors left among his eight teammates at the start. It was one of them, Brandon Mcnulty, who won third place after supporting him against Jonas Vingegaard on the final climb.

An unchanged top 5

Difficult to summarize this stage during which some of the first breakaways ended up among the last to arrive. Contrary to appearances however, the Top 5 remains unchanged since Nairo Quintana and David Gaudu retain their 4th and 5th places, behind Geraint Thomas.

Despite weaknesses and thanks to a burst of pride, Romain Bardet managed to catch up with some of the delay accumulated the day before, when he had tumbled from 4th to 9th place. After repeated attacks at the start of the stage and a few kilometers covered at the front of the race, he joined the carnage of riders, decimated by the drop, overtaken by the first two in the classification. He did not give up, however, finishing fifth in the stage, just behind Geraint Thomas, and climbing to 6th place in the standings.

David Gaudu also found himself in difficulty but retained his position, in particular thanks to the help of his teammates Valentin Madouas and Thibaut Pinot. If the latter was first driving for a stage victory, he finally waited for his leader after being dropped and left behind by the leading group.

In this leading group, a two-on-one fight was played out in the last twenty kilometers, Tadej Pogacar and his UAE Emirates team-mate trying to steal the yellow jersey from a Jonas Vingegaard clinging to their wheels. The Slovenian did try to attack it two hundred meters from the top of the third pass, without success. He will have to “settle” for a stage victory.

Green and comfort polka dot jerseys

By taking second place in the intermediate sprint, Wout van Aert is practically guaranteed to keep his green jersey as best sprinter. There are only 220 points left to distribute by the time they arrive in Paris and the Belgian is 220 points ahead of the second in the standings, Jasper Philipsen.

As for the polka dot jersey, Giulio Ciccone (Trek) took second place in the provisional classification, passing Simon Geshke (victim of a technical incident) at La Hourquette. But the Italian is still 24 points behind Simon Geschke (Cofidis), who retains his first place in the Grand Prix de la montagne for the time being.



Tour de France: for the French, a mixed race

Less than a week to raise your head. There are only a few stages left for the French riders to ensure the average established since the beginning of the century: between two and three victories in the Tour de France (2.55 exactly). The good years were much more, with a peak of six successes in 2010. Low waters, on the other hand, are more and more frequent: a single bouquet of winners in 2011, 2013, 2016 and 2021.

Last year, the impatient were overwhelmed: Julian Alaphilippe had closed the recurring debate by winning the entry. Only here: the double world champion is not in the peloton this time. And it’s not the only one missing. “We don’t have a rider above the rest in any of the categoriescomments bluntly Romain Bardet. Among the fighters, Julian is missing. Arnaud Démare isn’t here, so we don’t have any sprinters. And among climbers, we are not at the level of Tadej Pogacar or Jonas Vingegaard. »

Great champions who want to win everything

“Nothing surprising”therefore, for the Auvergne champion, on the podium in 2016 (2e) and 2017 (3e), to see the Tricolores struggling to find a place in the sun. Especially since the fight is more than tough and all-out this year. “We can learn from the first two weeks of racing that the notion of “transition stages” should be erased from our vocabulary.underlines Jean-René Bernaudeau, the boss of the French team TotalEnergies. Everyone is on top of things every day. Winning on the Tour has become very hard as the stakes are monstrous, the Grande Boucle being the only real sounding board for cycling. »

On the side of Cofidis, another hexagonal formation passed 450 m from victory on Sunday July 17 when its escaped runner Benjamin Thomas was swallowed up by the peloton in extremis, it is also argued that the shooting window is very narrow. “We observe a rise in the general level, a hyper-professionalization, and, at the same time as the desire for control of certain teams that already existed, the desire of some great champions to crunch everything, like Wout van Aert (two stage wins and four times 2eEd), notes Christian Guiberteau, sports director of Cofidis. There are many more openings on other races. The opportunities to win, we find them more easily on the other big Tours, the Italian Giro or the Spanish Vuelta. »

This Franco-French debate, the boss of the Groupama-FDJ team, Marc Madiot, is a little annoyed. “Great cycling nations like Italy and Spain are also struggling this yearhe marks. Cycling has become globalized, and in the life of the teams, the important thing is the jersey more than the nationality. What matters to me is to achieve results, whether with a Frenchman or another of my riders. »

The general classification rather than the stages

And the historic troop leader (since 1997) also highlights the presence of two Frenchmen in the top ten of the general classification before approaching the Pyrenees, his colt David Gaudu and Romain Bardet hoping to stay at the forefront. Two Blues in the top 10 on the Champs-Élysées would paradoxically be a great performance. This has only happened eight times since 2000, with a record year in 2014 when three Tricolores jostled with the leaders (Jean-Christophe Péraud 2eThibaut Pinot 3e and Romain Bardet 6e).

“We focus on stage victories by often depreciating a good place in the general classificationregrets Romain Bardet. We do not remember the seventh or the eighth of a Tour, even though it is a harder performance. It’s a shame, and I personally find it very rewarding to fight with the best in the mountains, on the pedals. » A position that David Gaudu also likes, displaying at the start of the Tour the high ambition of grabbing the podium. He wants to believe it because “the Pyrenees with steeper and shorter passes perhaps correspond better to my characteristics as a climber-puncher than the passes in the Alps, where you have to put on gear”, hopes the leader of Groupama-FDJ.

One certainty: the Blues are more and more rare to register their names on the Tour winners, but they are also fewer and fewer in the peloton. In 2014, the year of the hexagonal trio pointing in the top 10, there were 43 French people on arrival on the Champs-Élysées. From the 16e stage between Carcassonne and Foix on Tuesday July 19, there were only 25 left. This also explains that.



Tour de France: Canadian Hugo Houle wins the 16th stage, Vingegaard retains the yellow jersey

After an eventful stage, on uneven ground, it was Hugo Houle who won in Foix on Tuesday July 19 during the sixteenth stage of the Tour de France. The Canadian from the Israel Premier Tech team crossed the finish line almost six minutes before the yellow jersey group, after 178 kilometers of racing from Carcassonne. As he passes, he grabs the bib of the most combative runner of the day.

Less than 40 km from the finish, he managed to outrun the breakaways in a descent, never to be caught again. One of his direct competitors, Jorgensen, indeed fell in a badly calculated turn, 12 km from the finish, leaving second place to Frenchman Valentin Madouas and third to compatriot and teammate of the winner, Michael Woods, victorious of a final sprint.

On the first day of the third and last week of racing, the Pyrenees put many runners in difficulty, especially in the last two passes of 1D category. Within the (skinny) group of favorites, then more than seven minutes from the breakaway, the white jersey and second in the general classification Tadej Pogacar took the opportunity to challenge the yellow jersey Jonas Vingegaard by attacking him several times from in a row 50 kilometers from the finish.

Romain Bardet, loser of the day

This was without taking into account the good form of the rider of the Jumbo Visma. With a 2-minute lead in the general classification, Jonas Vingegaard managed to keep the gap. When the group of contenders for the general classification arrived, this time it was the yellow jersey who tried to surprise his Slovenian rival. The disputed sprint between the two men will finally be won by the Dane. The virtual podium still does not evolve and the British Geraint Thomas retains his third place, 2 minutes 43 from the yellow jersey.

The last two passes, on the other hand, saw the Frenchman Romain Bardet weaken (4th overall at the start). Despite dancer positions and supportive teammates, he slipped from 4th to 9th place. Also in difficulty, the second Frenchman in the general classification, David Gaudu, for his part managed to limit the damage and return alone to the yellow jersey group. He moved up to fifth place, just behind Nairo Quintana, and passed first among the French riders, 4 minutes 24 behind Jonas Vingegaard.