As the Tour de France concludes this Sunday, Dane Jonas Vingegaard wears the yellow jersey. For the moment the first Frenchman is 9th, it’s David Gaudu. “I too thought” that the French “would have done better”, estimates the director of the Grande Boucle.
The Tour de France concludes on Sunday 23 July on the Champs-Elysées with a second success awaited for the Danish Jonas Vingegaard, ahead of the Slovenian Tadej Pogacar and the British Adam Yates. Tadej Pogacar won stage two atop the Markstein on Saturday 22 July. And Thibaut Pinot celebrated his last ride in his region.
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On franceinfo on Sunday 23 July, the director of the Tour de France Christian Prudhomme takes stock of the 2023 edition which sees Jonas Vingegaard win “by KO”, a Thibaut Pinot “at the height of its popularity”. Christian Prudhomme also talks about doping, the mixed record of the Frenchman and the accidents that have glazed his path.
franceinfo: In this round we went from an exciting duel to the domination of one man. Do you regret it?
Christian Prudhomme: I don’t know if I regret it. Of course we always dreamed that there would be suspense until the last day. It’s a certainty. But I had invented the metaphor of the boxing match. There was an extremely close boxing match in which each of the protagonists went blow-for-blow for fifteen legs. And then, all of a sudden, there was an uppercut to the liver, a knee to the floor and the next day, the final knockout. So there was some kind of break in this duel, in this fight. But that promises us years to come with new fights, since Pogacar’s stage success on Saturday at Markstein, the anger he showed when he crossed the finish line, indicates that he will do anything to get his revenge.
The yellow jersey was overwhelmed by suspicions of doping in this Tour when he knocked off the stopwatch. Were you reassured by his words and those of his team?
There are significant gaps, widened after the time trial, which surprised everyone, me too. And there is a slightly different reading, without this changing everything, the day after, after the bankruptcy of Pogacar, which at that moment was obviously in a downward phase. Suspicion, alas, is not illegitimate in light of the past. And so you have to come to terms with it. Knowing that you and I know the number of tests carried out compared to the past, carried out by the ITA (International Testing Agency), an independent testing agency, which checked very regularly, and sometimes even several times a day, the main protagonists of the event.
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Roger Legeay, president of Movement for Credible Cycling, regrets that Jumbo-Visma and Team Emirates are not part of his movement. He says these teams don’t necessarily cheat. But he explains that they are not part of the actors in the fight against doping.
YES. But cycling is the only sport in the world, in my opinion, where the players impose stricter rules than those of the World Anti-Doping Agency. That is to say that there are people, given the past, who have the courage to do even more difficult things. And at the level of the UCI, the International Federation, last year there was the disqualification, the relegation, of the Colombian Nairo Quintana, for a product banned in the world of cycling but still authorized today in all other sports. So it’s hard for people to understand.
There are those who are on the podium. And there are the French further back in this Tour, with only one stage win, for Victor Lafay in San Sebastian. David Gaudu, Guillaume Martin, Thibaut Pinot, are all more than 20 minutes apart, respectively 9th, 10th, 11th. Would you have liked to see them much higher up?
Yes of course. I myself thought they would have done better. I imagined one Frenchman in the top five and maybe three Frenchmen in the ten. There had been a great start with Victor Lafay’s magnificent stage win. After that there was none. In his book of adventurers we have seen an excellent Mathieu Burgaudeau, who is a real revelation. But it’s true that we expected a Frenchman a little higher up in the general standings, whether it was David Gaudu or Romain Bardet, to whom I wish the best. On Saturday he resumed training.
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Thibaut Pinot, celebrated this Saturday, will definitively leave the Tour this Sunday, on the Champs-Elysées. Is it heartbreaking?
He bowed beautifully in the Vosges, just leading with an incredibly dense crowd, such as I have rarely seen in the Tour. And with fortunately very wise people, who didn’t budge. And with the singing, he was pretty amazing. We could hear on one side of the road “Thibaut, Thibaut” and on the other side “Pinot Pinot”, far ahead and still resounding behind. Some runners didn’t know how to leave on time.
“Thibaut Pinot leaves on time, not at the height of his career as a champion, but at the height of his popularity”
Christian Prudhomme, director of the Tour de France
It was very impressive during the whole stage. From the first to the last kilometre, we heard that a name by the roadside, on this stage of the Vosges leading to Markstein, was that of Thibaut Pinot.
The Tour was characterized by heavy public attendance, also accompanied by incidents with spectators due to telephones or vehicles. Is the Tour de France now too big for the roads of France?
No, but that’s the price of success. The success has been absolutely phenomenal. There were more people than I have ever personally seen on the roads of the Tour. There are phenomenal TV ratings. A few years ago it was said to be a sport for the elderly. This is absolutely not the case. On the other hand, in the audience that is always 99% familiar and super nice, there are people who pay a little less attention. And these people need to be careful. So we will have to take other measures, certainly. We never imagined that there would be so many people on each of the steep inclines. So we will obviously take other precautions, which may not always please you. Because often it is the press cars or press motorcycles that get caught in the web of difficulties. So we’ll think about all this calmly. It’s the price of success. We will have to adapt and we will all have to adapt together.