June 15, 2021

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Tour de France: French riders disappointed

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It is a story of goats, which has not finished talking in the peloton of the French, gathered far from the first places. On the evening of the historic time trial on Saturday 19 September, having seen the coronation of the young Slovenian Tadej Pogacar on the slopes of La Planche-des-Belles-Filles, the local of the stage, Thibaut Pinot, posted on the social networks a photo. We see the boys from his hilarious Groupama-FDJ team, pulling the goat goat goat goat that he raises not far from there.

→ PORTRAIT. Tour de France 2020: Tadej Pogacar, a kid made history

Evoking this day, when the road was painted with his name every thirty meters, the runner compared the happiness of running among his family to “Almost a victory”. Nothing inappropriate in view of the overall performance of the French. Handicapped by a back injury following a fall during the first stage, he himself was irreparably dropped in the Pyrenees.

Thibaut Pinot seems to have already left for the Tour… 2021

Already during the 2019 Tour, Thibaut Pinot had to give up three days before the finish, when a podium seemed certain to him, and that he carried on his shoulders the chance to succeed Bernard Hinault. Thirty-five years after the ultimate success of the Breton badger, the last Frenchman to win the Tour in 1985, it is difficult to see who could take up the torch. After having hinted that he could throw in the towel for an unfinished career, the Saônois announced that he will start the Tour of Spain on October 20. And set an appointment with his supporters still numerous for the Tour 2021.

He will then be 31 years old, a canonical age to win. The misadventure of the thirty-something Primoz Roglic against his young compatriot Tadej Pogacar, 21, is there to show it. In a cycling world where careers started earlier also turn out quicker, Thibaut Pinot is an ancestor. Like his colleague Romain Bardet, forced to retire after a fall, and who will try next year to regain the colors of 2016 (he finished 2nd in the Tour) in the jersey of the Swiss team Sunweb.

Should we expect better from Julian Alaphilippe, 5th in the 2019 edition after wearing the yellow jersey for almost two weeks? Not sure. Out of shape since the start of this white season for him, disturbed by the death of his father and matters of the heart, he has never seemed in the game, despite a stage victory and a yellow jersey stupidly lost because of of a water container caught in a prohibited area.

→ READ. Tour de France 2020: these young people who dominate the peloton

But we expected better from Guillaume Martin, great hope despite his 27 years of a French peloton in need of relief. Frustrated at having missed out on a place in the top ten which seemed promised to him after his twelfth place last year, he was held back by “a day without” and a derailleur problem in the hill where it was not necessary. Le Normand has set a date for next year, without completely convincing. Just like David Gaudu, 23, stamped number 1 hope of French cycling after his beautiful Tour 2019, and forced to abandon.

French youngsters closer to the tail than to the head

Apart from two stage victories, that of Julian Alaphilippe and that of the unexpected Grenoblois Nans Peters, this Tour 2020 is to be erased from our sporting memories, a bit chauvinistic. Three French in the top twenty, Guillaume Martin (11th) Warren Barguill (14th) Pierre Rolland (18th) but none in the Top 10: in recent history, we have to go back to the nightmarish edition of 2013 to find such a debacle. The French had to be content with a stage victory (Christophe Riblon at Alpe d’Huez) and a single rider classified in the top fifteen, Romain Bardet.

→ ANALYSIS. Tour de France 2020: Roglic-Pogacar, two Slovenians at the top

The Tour de France 2019 had given a glimpse of wonders, from the top of its three French victories, twelve days in yellow and a ranking of the best climber. We are very far from the mark this year. What is most worrying is that the next generation is slow to show the tip of its nose, while we can see in all nations a rejuvenation of runners capable of winning great races.

The two youngest of the French peloton, Mathieu Burgaudeau and Maxime Chevalier, both 21 years old, finish in 130th and 136th places. More than five hours, or the duration of a stage, from the winner Tadej Pogacar who is only a few months older than them.

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