While on his way back to Normandy, following his positive Covid test at the start of the ninth stage of the Tour de France 2022, Guillaume Martin (Cofidis) confided in West France.
Your manager revealed to us that you tested positive for covid on Saturday evening following an internal antigen test. This was confirmed this Sunday morning by a PCR test. Tell us about the past few hours…
It was an emotional lift! The day before yesterday, I had a very slight sore throat, so I had asked for a test. It was negative, I was reassured. Yesterday, after the stage, I asked to take one again. It turned out positive. I was quite surprised because I felt great on the bike. It became very stressful.
This morning, I tried to play the card thoroughly to see if it was possible to start again, especially in view of the new protocol. The test showed that my contagiousness index was too high. So we didn’t take the risk of me leaving. We were transparent vis-à-vis Amaury sport organization (ASO) and the International Cycling Union (UCI). This may not be the case for all teams. There may be runners who have been covid for several days and do not tell anyone.
To come back to the first aspect of your answer, Cédric Vasseur also told us that you thought you had simple angina.
I have a fairly fragile throat, so this type of symptom happens to me 25 times a year. When I did two tests and they came back positive, I realized pretty quickly anyway.
READ ALSO. Cédric Vasseur: “We will see tonight if there is a cluster…”
“There, I leave almost being in top form…”
We learned quite late that you were not going. Were you hoping to still be at the start, Sunday morning, at Aigle?
Last night everyone was surprised. I didn’t sleep much last night… Neither did the doctor. He told me there was still a little hope. I tried to hang on to that. I really wanted to run the stage today, to see how I was on the bike. If I was still good… Or if, on the contrary, my performance deteriorated. That would also have been a clue. If I had been really sick, of course, I would have understood. There, I leave almost being at the top of my form. So I wanted to do the day’s stage, then give myself the rest day to see. Tuesday was a little easier. That could give me three days to get rid of it. I wanted it. It was not possible.
How did you react when you learned this morning that you couldn’t take the start?
I had already prepared myself a little. I thought it was likely. When the last resort was used, there was no more possibility.
“I was able to surprise everyone a bit on the sequel”
How do you live things knowing that you arrive on your favorite ground?
I had a good first week, which was going to be very tricky. With almost no wasted time (3’02”). The sensations were improving… I felt like I had eaten my black bread. I was in the shadows, nobody talked too much about me. For my part, I felt that I was able to increase the pressure and surprise everyone on the rest of the Tour.
And, like the Tour of Spain 2021, where I was in a bit of the same situation at the start of the third week, I was fine. I was sixth overall and then there was this crash. It’s a new setback when everything is going very well. It’s difficult, however, I put things into perspective because there are more serious things in life… I’m going to go back home, to Normandy, and I’m going to disconnect.
READ ALSO. “ It is probably already too late ”: fear rises on the Tour de France after cases of Covid-19
“We can’t control everything”
Saturday, after the stage, you explained that you understood the two parties (public and ASO), that it was difficult to backtrack, compared to the Covid.
At that time, I had no idea that I would be in the situation I am in today. My position is still the same: I am aware that for the population, it is difficult to understand to return to the previous measures. I’m on the train, with the mask. In hotels, some servers did not make the effort to put on the mask. We’re not the police either. You can’t control everything.
On Saturday, two other runners withdrew. Do you think the number of Covid cases can be significant on Monday, during the rest day?
I fear it. I will be even more frustrated if we discover within certain teams that there are a lot of cases and that they have not been taken care of. I’ve heard rumours… I don’t want to speak publicly about it. But I think there are riders in the peloton who continue to race, even though they know they are positive. Since the start, I have been careful with wearing a mask. I got infected somewhere…
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“I’m going to requisition a lodge and I’m going to take care of our donkeys”
So you imagine having caught him in the peloton.
It’s impossible to say. But in any case it is a very probable eventuality. This is the first time I have had Covid in two and a half years. I have always been very careful, especially around my main objectives.
You are on your way back. What are you going to do these next few days in Normandy?
I’m not sure to turn on the TV (smile). I am going to requisition a lodging with my parents and I am going to take care of our donkeys, to which there is no risk that I transmit the virus. I’m going to do some masonry. This will help clear my mind…