Tour de lose as French riders look for elusive stage win | Inquirer Sports

Tour de lose as French riders look for elusive stage win

/ 04:31 PM July 17, 2022
FDJ's Thibaut Pinot crosses the finish line after stage 14

Cycling – Tour de France – Stage 14 – Saint-Etienne to Mende – France – July 16, 2022 Groupama – FDJ’s Thibaut Pinot crosses the finish line after stage 14 REUTERS/Christian Hartmann

MENDE, France —With only seven stages left in this year’s race, French riders face the embarrassing prospect of ending the Tour de France without a stage victory for only the third time since the event was created in 1903.

While Romain Bardet, fourth overall, is fighting for a podium finish in Paris and David Gaudu can still hope to end up in the top five overall, none of the 27 French riders left in the race, with the exception of Thibaut Pinot, appear in a position to raise their arms in celebration.

ADVERTISEMENT

Pinot, a 2014 podium finisher who came agonizingly close to winning the Tour in 2019 before he abandoned injured two days before the Champs Elysees parade, finished fourth in Chatel and third in Mende on Saturday.

The Groupama-FDJ rider is on the Tour without any ambitions for the title after being hampered with injuries for two years and he will go for a stage win again in the Pyrenees.

FEATURED STORIES

Gaudu, his team leader, or Bardet will not be allowed into a breakaway and they are a notch below the top two riders in the race, yellow jersey holder Jonas Vingegaard of Denmark and Slovenia’s defending champion Tadej Pogacar.

Only twice before, in 1926 and 1999, have the local favorites reached Paris empty-handed.

World champion Julian Alaphilippe is the last French rider with a win on the Tour after he prevailed in the opening stage last year. Since then, the locals have gone 34 stages without a victory – an all-time worst performance.

But he is not taking part in the race this year after suffering several injuries in the Liege-Bastogne-Liege classic in April.

“Alaphilippe is not here and he’s being sorely missed,” AG2R-Citroen manager Vincent Lavenu said.

“Three Danish riders have won this year already but no French. Until the end of the Tour we need to find opportunities to put more riders in the breakaways.”

Getting into a group of breakaway riders seems to be the only hope for the French as they cannot rival Vingegaard and Pogacar in the mountains and this year no top sprint specialist features in any team in the absence of Arnaud Demare.

ADVERTISEMENT

Christophe Laporte, who is also a decent sprinter, rides for Vingegaard’s Jumbo-Visma team and has been assigned to domestique duties on the flat stages.

“It’s hard to explain. You have to be strong but also have a bit of luck,” said Laporte.

“We see French riders who are strong but they don’t get very lucky. I also think these days it’s kind of always the same who win. (Belgian) Wout (van Aert), (Tadej) Pogacar, Jonas (Vingegaard).

“You have to be stronger and stronger to win and I think we are not the best in the mountains. The French need to go into the breakaways.”

One of their best chances might come on Sunday when the 15th stage takes the peloton from Rodez to Carcassonne on a 202.5-km bumpy ride.

Read Next
Don't miss out on the latest news and information.

Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.

TAGS: France, Tour de France
For feedback, complaints, or inquiries, contact us.


© Copyright 1997-2022 INQUIRER.net | All Rights Reserved

We use cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. By continuing, you are agreeing to our use of cookies. To find out more, please click this link.