July 14 is breaking out, but on the side of the tricolor peloton, it is still not the fireworks. At the time of entering the third week and a Pyrenean sequence which already gives the shivers, the state of mind is roused on a roller coaster, like the weekend that the best current Frenchman has just spent, Guillaume Martin.
→ ANALYSIS. Tour de France 2021: in Andorra, cycling, rest, taxes
On Saturday, the very opportunistic rider Cofidis slips into the right breakaway and wins the bet: a big leap forward in the standings, and he is now second overall. Applause. But the climber knows he left some feathers in the case. Confirmation Sunday. Guillaume Martin, without really getting stuck in the climb to Andorra, misses the right wagon, loses precious minutes, and tumbles down at 9e place, almost eight minutes from the yellow jersey. A blow for nothing, or not far.
“A Crazy Tour”
Provisional assessment: Julian Alaphilippe in yellow on the first stage, and Guillaume Martin in a flash on the podium. “Some slack years, we would have been content with that, comments Pierre Rolland, 41e to the general. And you have to see that the level is very, very high this year ”.
The manager of the AG2R-Citroën team asks for the same kindness, and is a little annoyed by the eternal lamentations over national performances: “We always take as a reference the 1980s of Bernard Hinault’s triumph, but cycling is absolutely not the same. There were only five or six nations playing together, when today adversity comes from everywhere, from South America, Australia, Slovenia, Denmark. In an unbridled race, where every day around thirty guys are able to win the stage, the French are not totally abandoned ”.
→ THE ROUTE. Find the map of the 2021 Tour de France stages
Just a little inside, placed but nothing more, like a Julian Alaphilippe often in good shots, but ultimately extra luxury. On the strength of his experience with his twelve participations in the Grande Boucle, Pierre Rolland does not look for excuses but underlines the difficulty of this edition. “In terms of intensity, this is undoubtedly the most difficult Tour that I have run, estimates the climber of the B & B Hotels training. Everyone gives their all without thinking about the next day, as if it was the end of the world. The transition stages are happening at breakneck speeds ”.
Back in shape after gastric problems, David Gaudu (14e overall), attacking Sunday and seventh in the stage, remains stunned by this Tour de dynamisseurs. “It’s a non-stop fight, at different levels, except maybe for the yellow jersey. The other rankings are far from certain, there is so much to gain, with all the teams wanting to show off, that it’s a crazy Tour. Which pulls a lot on the organisms ”.
The quest for a beautiful escape
Out of breath, the French? Many of them have laid down their arms, often after having followed a series of blows of fate, such as the climber Warren Barguil, forced to retire for the first time since 2015 after three nasty falls, or the sprinter Nacer Bouhanni, also having bitten the asphalt, lowered from the saddle this Sunday before going to Andorra. But they have not all given up. David Gaudu is biding his time to restore the image of his rather dull Groupama-FDJ team for the moment.
Ambush at the 12e place in the general classification, Aurélien Paret-Peintre does not lack ambition for his first participation in the Tour. He checked the 16e stage this Tuesday July 13 between Pas-de-la-Case and Saint-Gaudens. “It is the last possibility of escaping, before two successive arrivals at the top, which will undoubtedly be controlled by the big teams, in particular the Ineos who have still not won anything., he analyzes. With temperatures lower than announced, all the ingredients are there, especially since I feel pretty good. “
→ ANALYSIS. Tour de France 2021: the Ineos-Grenadiers team has a series of wet firecrackers
Will the AG2R-Citröen rider be in the right wagon? “It’s always complicated to get on board”, he smiles. His roommate Benoît Cosnefroy says no better. Last year, he had worn the polka-dot jersey for the best climber for two weeks, between the second and the sixteenth stage. A savored luck. Today is 95e to the general. “It’s really not easy to shed light on the Tour de France. “ Effectively.
July 14, unique stage
A handsome winner up there, perched at the top. This is the idea that we have of a beautiful stage for a July 14th. In the last twenty years, it has indeed been played 13 times in the mountains, which is trending. But the race is not necessarily tied in the laces. And if the runners do well in the clouds on Wednesday at the Col du Portet (2,215 m), the last debates on the National Day in 2018 and 2019 took place on the flat.
Since 1947, July 14 has even allowed itself some originalities. Days of rest (in 1956, 1973, 1977, 1984 and 1994) or rides against the chronometer in 1961, from 1964 to 1967, in 1978 and 1982. The period 1964-1967 was particularly unique: the time trials were held during the last stage, which then arrived at the Parc des Princes. And on the last, in 1967, the stage victory went to a certain Raymond Poulidor.