sacred cobblestones, revengeful spirit and burst “bubble”

sacred cobblestones, revengeful spirit and burst “bubble”

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Today’s stage: Lille Métropole – Arenberg Porte du Hainaut (157 kilometers)

The Tour signs its return to the cobblestones, central actors of the Paris-Roubaix “monument”. The Grande Boucle had already ventured there in 2014 and 2018. For this second day in the north of France, the runners will be entitled to “19.4 km on the cobblestones, divided between eleven sectors, including three unpublished on the Tour de France”recalls in the stage briefing Cédric Coutouly, professional rider from 2001 to 2010.

The specialists of the “hell of the North” (the nickname of Paris-Roubaix) will be there, accompanied by many favorites that their teams will want to place at the front of the peloton to limit the risks in the multiple accident-prone zones of the 75 last kilometres.

According to Adrien Petit, runner from Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux, interviewed by Bicycle Magazine, “this day will not upset the general classification, even if it can eliminate one or two contenders for victory”. Ask Christopher Froome for his opinion, forced to retire after a fall in 2014.

The predictions

THE REASON

Would Denmark extend their Week One honours? Winner of Paris-Roubaix juniors in 2013, Mads Pedersen has all the qualities required to win at the end of this stage full of pitfalls. The 2019 world champion also appears to have the form to be among the favourites. “To be honest, my biggest goal since I left the juniors is to win Paris-Roubaix”recently confided the 26-year-old runner. Today’s stage offers him an unexpected opportunity to shine on a course very close to that of the event which attracts him so much.

THE HEART

Native of Cambrai (North), Florian Senechal impatiently awaited the passage of the Tour in the north of France. The champion of France, crowned on June 26 in Cholet, does not however return to his land only to greet the public. A major part of the Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl team during the classics season, the winner of the 2011 edition of Paris-Roubaix juniors should be able to play his personal card on roads he has frequented for years.

The declared

“You won’t win the Tour here, but you can lose it. »

Tadej Pogacar did not take long to understand what challenge he was going to face. From April 4, the day after its 4e place on the Tour of Flanders, the outgoing double winner of the Tour de France had come to recognize the cobbled sections that the peloton will take on Wednesday. Followed by the Belgian media sporzathe Slovenian then admitted that “On this stage, it can go very badly or it can go well. Either way, it will be a hectic stage.” A taste, why not, of a future participation in Paris-Roubaix.

Detour of the Tour

As the song illustrates The Coronsby Pierre Bachelet, which has become the anthem of supporters of the Lens football club, Hauts-de-France has a strong mining past. The Arenberg pit, a former coal mine in the mining basin located in the town of Wallers (North) and operated between the beginning of the 20the century and 1989, has been listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 2012. The buildings and the three trestles of the old wells, still in place, were saved from destruction thanks to the filming of the film Germinalreleased in 1993. Since September 2015, the film creation center Arenberg Creative Mine has occupied the premises. At the Tour to launch its soap opera on a bicycle.

In the retro

Gilbert Duclos-Lassalle is a Béarnais who fell in love with the North and its cobblestones from his first participation in Paris-Roubaix, in 1978. But the love has long been cow. In 1980, on the “queen of the classics”, the Peugeot rider fell 20 kilometers from the finish when he was the only one hanging on to follow the Italian Francesco Moser, future winner.

The following year, Duclos-Lassalle finds the same scenery on the Tour de France during a 12e stage taking several paved sectors. At the Roubaix velodrome, victory could not escape him in a three-way sprint with the Belgian Daniel Willems and the Portuguese Joaquim Agostinho, when his foot came out of the toe clip in the last meters. To the Belgian Willems the victory and to “Duclos” the regrets. But also a promise: “On this track, I want to come back and I swear to you that it will be a winner”he announces just after his misadventure. Stubborn, he takes his time, but honors his word with his fantastic double in Paris-Roubaix in 1992 and 1993.

The broom wagon

Quinn Simmons.

For its third season under the sign of Covid-19, the Tour has decided to live with the virus. For the follower who has experienced the two previous editions, and the famous “bubble”, the contrast is striking. Said follower finds scenes that he feared belong ad vitam æternam to the past: the clusters of journalists in front of the team buses, the hordes of supporters massed along the barriers in the starting area, the runners who stop to make selfies or sign an autograph…

The opportunity also to measure that if since 1985 no Frenchman has won the Tour, they remain the yellow jerseys to the applause meter – Thibaut Pinot in the lead – and that a good part of the Northerners really wanted to wish a happy birthday to the Belgian Philippe Gilbert – 40 years old on Tuesday! Of course, the peloton remains vigilant and the wearing of the mask rather observed in the mixed zones where runners and journalists rub shoulders… Well, with a few exceptions, such as Quinn Simmons, climber of the Trek-Segafredo. But when you know that the young American (21) has Trumpist sympathies, in the end, it holds up.

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