Tour de France: departure from Florence in 2024, a first for Italy

The Tour de France will start from Italy in 2024 for the first time in its history. The departure will be from Florence for an 111th edition decidedly unlike the others with a final arrival in Nice, the organizers announced on Wednesday December 21.

“The Tour started from all the countries bordering France. He even left the Netherlands six times, which has no common border with France. But he has never left Italy yet. There is a kind of incongruity that will disappear”explains to AFP Christian Prudhomme, the director of the Tour de France who is in Italy until Friday to present this 26th Grand departure from abroad, the third consecutive after Copenhagen in 2022 and Bilbao in 2023.

In total, there will be three stages in Italy to launch the 2024 edition which, due to the Olympic Games in Paris, will end exceptionally in Nice with, as the organizers had already announced, a final individual time trial on the 21 July, five days before the start of the Olympics in the capital.

The first stage, on June 29, will connect Florence to Rimini – “a mid-mountain or even mountain stage with an elevation gain of 3,700 meters”, according to Prudhomme. The second, cut out for punchers, will start from Cesenatico and end on a final circuit in Bologna via Imola where Julian Alaphilippe won his first world championship title in 2020.

“Leaving abroad, I claim it”

The third, promised to the sprinters, will go from Plaisance to Turin. The fourth stage should also take off in Italy and then arrive in France.

“Leaving abroad, I not only assume it but I claim it. French security forces will be in huge demand in 2024, so a big departure from abroad can help”insists Prudhomme.

For the Tour, it is also an opportunity to celebrate Italian cycling, so rich, as 2024 marks the centenary of the first Italian victory in the Grand Boucle, that of Ottavio Bottecchia in 1924.



Tour de France: a time trial in Nice for the last stage of the 2024 edition

The Tour de France will arrive in Nice in 2024, deserting Paris for the first time since 1905 because of the Olympic Games, indicated the city of Nice and the organizers of the Grande Boucle, Thursday December 1 during a press conference.

Another announcement: the last stage, traditionally a sprint on the Champs-Élysées, will this time be an individual time trial. It will be the first time that the Tour has finished on a time since the legendary outcome of 1989 when the Frenchman Laurent Fignon lost the yellow jersey by eight seconds, the smallest gap in history, against the American Greg LeMond.

A first since 1989

The start of this 111th edition should be given for the first time from Italy and the city of Florence. As is usually the case in an Olympic year, the race will be brought forward a week. She will therefore leave on June 29, 2024 and arrive on July 21, five days before the start of the Olympic Games.

“Nice has hosted the Tour 37 times with two starts in 1981 and 2020”this last “in a very difficult health context” with the Covid-19 pandemic, welcomed the mayor of Nice, Christian Estrosi.

That the Tour de France arrives in Nice had been recorded for a while, while the Paris Games (July 26-August 11) will turn the summer sports program upside down that year. It is nonetheless a small revolution since the most famous race in the world has, with the exception of the first two editions in 1903 and 1904 arriving in Ville d’Avray (Hauts-de-Seine), until then always finished in Paris. First at the Parc des Princes (from 1906 to 1967), then at the Cipale velodrome (1968 to 1975) and since 1975 on the Champs-Élysées.

Return to Paris in 2025

“Nice is a city that shines, known worldwide. There is the beauty of the setting and the mountain next to it. The city offers an exceptional setting and a formidable field of expression for the champions that we are going to use”explains the director of the Tour, Christian Prudhomme.

For this Tour unlike any other, the organizers are planning a “Fireworks Final Weekend” with first, on Saturday, a stage “mountain oriented” from Nice. Then, the next day, as the ultimate justice of the peace, an individual time trial, 35 years after that between Versailles and the Champs-Élysées in 1989, an edition that remains in everyone’s memory.

In 2025, the return to normal is already scheduled, especially since there will be something to celebrate. “We will be delighted to find Paris and the Champs-Élysées for the 50th anniversary of the first arrival on the Champs”emphasizes Christian Prudhomme.



Map of the Tour de France 2023: find the route of this Grande Boucle

A funny snake of 3,404 km which sometimes gives the impression of trying to bite its own tail: the route of this Tour 2023 revealed as usual with great fanfare this Thursday, October 27 by ASO (Amaury Sport Organisation), the organizing company, has a rather unprecedented look. But it was necessary to adapt to this constraint of a “great departure” in the Spanish Basque Country which forces us to shake up the usual patterns.

The Grande Boucle, it is true, is no longer a surprise. In 1992, with already a start in San Sebastian, she quickly cleared the Pyrenees to visit the North, Belgium and Luxembourg in an acrobatic split. By taking off next year from Bilbao and after three first 100% Basque stages promised to adventurers who love bumps, it quickly imposes serious things, with the Pyrenees which will certainly not be the main course but offer themselves in consistent entry from July 5th. A classic Pau-Laruns and a severe climb towards Cauterets, the organizers do not skimp on the animation of a first week which has not been used for a long time as a nice warm-up.

Back to the mythical Puy-de-Dôme

A first week which will also end on July 9 on a summit, and not the least: the mythical Puy-de-Dôme. This is the big blow of this Tour 2023. Returning to the monster, inaccessible since 1988 because of the narrowness of a road also prohibited by municipal decree since 2012, was one of the dreams of Christian Prudhomme, the director of the Round. He has worked in recent years to bring down the resistance one by one, and with the respect of drastic access limitations (no spectators, restricted followers), the Tour will relive the climb for the fourteenth time since 1952, and awaken the ghosts of Raymond Poulidor and Jacques Anquetil who wrote on these slopes on July 12, 1964 some unforgettable lines of cycling legend.

The possibility of climbing the volcano again was well worth a long stay in Auvergne, the region benefiting from four days of presence, including the first day of rest in Clermont-Ferrand, before heading for the Jura via the wine route Beaujolais, for a stage on July 14 to Grand-Colombier considered one of the toughest passes in France, and especially the Alps, less spoiled in recent years, but to which the 2023 edition gives pride of place, in two times.

The Alps as a main course, the Vosges for dessert

First towards Morzine with a Col de Joux-Plane which in the past has had a great time upsetting the classifications, then towards Saint-Gervais before the second day of rest. The rest promises sparks, with a short (22 km) but very tough time trial, and the return to the 17e stage on July 19 towards the altiport of Courchevel of the very nasty Col de la Loze, specially tarmacked for its frightening appearance during the 2020 Tour. The 21.5 km of ascent, of which the last seven are almost inhuman with slopes around 20 %, will once again push the runners to their limits.

End of hostilities? What not. To get the peloton out of the way, the organizers have planned a fifth massif, the Vosges, for dessert. On the eve of the arrival in Paris, climbing the balloon and the small balloon of Alsace, and six chained passes should satisfy the strongest appetites.

The menu is therefore rather rich, and you will have to like to hurt yourself. Can the profile push the new darling of world cycling, the Belgian Remco Evenepoel, recent winner of the Tour of Spain, to come and taste his first Tour de France rather than waiting for 2024 as planned in his program? This is obviously the question that will still agitate the months to come. The playing field can make you salivate, but it is above all the different actors in full that fans of the little queen hope for. Finally a Tour with all the top names: Jonas Vingegaard, Tadej Pogacar, Remco Evenepoel, Egan Bernal, Primoz Roglic, Wout van Aert, Julian Alaphilippe, Mathieu van der Poel, all on the same poster. Chick!

► The stages of the Tour de France 2023

July 1: 1st stage Bilbao (Spain) – Bilbao, 182 km

July 2: 2nd stage Vitoria-Gasteiz (Spain) – San Sebastian (Spain), 209 km

July 3: 3rd stage Amorebieta-Etxano (Spain) – Bayonne, 185 km

July 4: 4th stage Dax – Nogaro, 182 km

July 5: 5th stage Pau – Laruns, 165 km

July 6: 6th stage Tarbes – Cauterets-Cambasque, 145 km

July 7: 7th stage Mont-de-Marsan – Bordeaux, 170 km

July 8: 8th stage Libourne – Limoges, 201 km

July 9: 9th stage Saint-Léonard-de-Noblat – Puy-de-Dôme, 184 km

July 10: rest in Clermont-Ferrand

July 11: 10th stage Vulcania – Issoire, 167 km

July 12: 11th stage Clermont-Ferrand – Moulins, 180 km

July 13: 12th stage Roanne – Belleville-en-Beaujolais, 169 km

July 14: 13th stage Châtillon-sur-Chalaronne – Grand-Colombier, 138 km

July 15: 14th stage Annemasse – Morzine-Les Portes du Soleil, 152 km

July 16: 15th stage Les Gets-Les Portes du Soleil – Saint-Gervais Mont-Blanc, 180 km

July 17: rest in Saint-Gervais Mont-Blanc

July 18: 16th stage Passy – Combloux (individual time trial), 22 km

July 19: 17th stage Saint-Gervais Mont-Blanc – Courchevel, 166 km

July 20: 18th stage Moûtiers – Bourg-en-Bresse, 186 km

July 21: 19th stage Moirans-en-Montagne – Poligny, 173 km

July 22: 20th stage Belfort – Le Markstein, 133 km

July 23: 21st stage Saint-Quentin-en-Yvelines – Paris Champs-Elysées, 115 km



Quintana case: why cycling banned tramadol

On the eve of its launch in Utrecht (Netherlands), the Colombian Nairo Quintana announced Thursday August 18 that he would not take the start of the Vuelta, the Tour of Spain cycling, of which he was one of the men to be continued. A day earlier, the climber from the French team Arkéa-Samsic had been disqualified from the Tour de France where he took sixth place last month. The International Cycling Union (UCI) justified its decision by revealing that two samples of the rider’s dried blood contained traces of tramadol, one of which had been taken on July 13 at the end of the 11e mountain stage at the top of the Col du Granon, where Quintana finished second behind Dane Jonas Vingegaard, the future winner of the event.

Since this is a first offense, the Colombian remained authorized to run in competition. But the winner of the Vuelta 2016 judged not to be “in good condition” to align, preferring ” to return [chez lui]organize and prepare [sa] defense about the news that [lui] has arrived”. In a press release, he assures us that he completely unaware of knowing and having used this substance during [sa] career. » He has ten days to inform the Court of Arbitration for Sport of his wish to appeal this decision.

The announcement also comes the day after the 32-year-old rider’s contract extension until 2025, announced by his team. In 2020, she had already been targeted in France by an investigation, opened for suspicion of doping without any guilt having been declared since.

Prohibited in racing, but not yet considered doping

Banned from racing since 2019 by the UCI, tramadol has not yet been included by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) on its list of doping products, although it has placed it under surveillance for ten years. “It is perfectly legal for a runner to take tramadol as part of a prescription because he suffers from acute low back pain, for example. But in these conditions, he does not take the risk of being on a bike in the middle of the peloton “, explained Xavier Bigard, the medical director of the UCI.

“Without being generalized, there was misuse among some runners. Its primary function as an analgesic has been diverted to delay the onset of pain, which is the main factor limiting sports performance,” recalls Roger Legeay, former professional cyclist and co-founder fifteen years ago of the Movement for Credible Cycling (MPCC), whose doctors from member teams had pledged from 2013 to no longer prescribe tramadol.

Drowsiness, dizziness: health risks for runners

Nevertheless, the UCI’s ban was primarily intended to preserve the health and safety of the runner”, specifies the instance on its site. The decision had come to conclude a debate on the question of the massive falls observed in the race, and that the immediate side effects of tramadol, such as drowsiness or the appearance of dizziness, could have favored.

On the Tour of Spain, I have already seen the Sky riders lead the peloton. Going up to their height when attacking a pass, I realized that the guys were sleeping on their bikes. I asked one of them a question, he was drooling and looked at me with a hallucinated look, testified in 2016 to Release a rider on condition of anonymity, two years after Canadian Michael Barry became the first rider to publicly denounce the abuse of tramadol in the peloton. Especially since the consumption of this opium derivative can lead to “a longer-term addiction”insists the doctor of one of the 15 formations affiliated to the MPCC out of the 17 in the ProTour category, the equivalent of the second division of world cycling, in addition to half of the 18 elite teams.

The Nairo Quintana case represents the first known positive test for tramadol since 2019. An exception in the eyes of Roger Legeay, who wants to believe that “This problem is now solved in cycling. This is not the case for Quintana who will re-examine the use of tramadol in the professional peloton. The last step is for WADA to put it on the list of doping products, and they are considering it. »



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)