(Paris) “I have it! I think I have it, the white jersey! »
Posted at 11:59
With the Arc de Triomphe in the background, Simone Boilard was ecstatic in the finish area on the scorching cobblestones of the Champs-Élysées on Sunday afternoon.
One by one, her French teammates from the St-Michel-Auber93 team fell into her arms, a few seconds after the end of the first stage of the Tour de France Women.
A little later, she learned that she had escaped this first tunic of best young person (under 23 years old) by two places. The fact remains that the cyclist from Quebec City finished eighth in the mass sprint of this historic stage, the first in 33 years for a true women’s Tour de France.
“Wow, that’s solid! reacted Boilard. I’m so glad we can do a top 10 with the team. We are one of the teams invited because we are French, we are not going to hide it. It’s a big goal for us to show that we belong here. We raced without complex and we showed that we really had our place in the Tour. »
Thousands of spectators already lined the most famous avenue in the world a few hours before the conclusion of the final stage of the men’s Tour, disputed on the same circuit.
“It gives watts, really, underlined Boilard. It’s sick because it really is our home race. Our service-race is 5-10 kilometers from here. Aubervilliers 93 is a suburb of Paris. »
Considering herself “not at all” a sprinter, the 22-year-old cyclist slipped behind the train of the DSM team, which led Dutchwoman Lorena Wiebes to victory and an expected first yellow jersey.
“It’s crazy, it was hot,” said Boilard. I think living in Nice pays off. It acclimated me to the heat. »
The bronze medalist at the 2018 Junior World Championships will try to take the white jersey from the second stage, 136.4 km between Meaux and Provins, this Monday. It currently belongs to the Dutch Maike van der Duin (Le Col-Wahoo), sixth in the stage. “There will be other opportunities,” assured Boilard, not too disappointed.
“Seven days to recover”
Two other Quebecers are taking part in the Tour de France: Olivia Baril, with the Italians from Valcar-Travel & Service, and Magdeleine Vallières Mill, rookie from the American team EF Education-Tibco-SVB.
Barrel, 41emade sure to finish in the same time as the contenders in the general classification, while preparing the sprint for her teammate Eleonora Gasparrini (16e), who was also aiming for the white jersey.
“We had problems in our lead-out train,” explained Baril after showering in the team van parked at Place de la Concorde. “It’s unfortunate, but it’s the first leg of eight. We have seven days to recover. »
His presence at the start of the Tour is already a feat. Nobody believed it after a fall in the third stage of the Giro on July 2, which earned him 25 stitches in his left knee.
“I did a full week without moving at all in bed. I watched the Giro from my sofa. I resumed pedaling quietly with the stitches. Today was just getting back in shape in the peloton. Make sure I’m not afraid. A fall can also mark the mind. I just wanted to get to the finish line safely so I didn’t waste any time. »
The athlete from Amos was happy to have been able to experience this race on the cobblestones of the Champs-Élysées.
It was brewing a lot, I have blisters on my hands. It’s fun to be able to live what men have always lived.
In the shadow of the big bus of EF Education, a WorldTour formation, Vallières Mill also had her hands numb after her 125e place, 56 seconds behind the winner.
“I had a little trouble in the peloton, I was not positioned where I would have liked, regretted the Sherbrooke resident. I couldn’t help as much as I wanted. It happens. »
The 20-year-old only learned a week and a half ago of her selection for the Tour de France, after a good performance at the Giro (38e). For the first time in her life, she was able to admire the Eiffel Tower, the starting point of the 81.7 km event.
“It’s very beautiful here,” she noted, scanning the buildings with her gaze. It’s very special to do the first Women’s Tour de France. »
Wiebes was ahead of the Dutch Marianne Vos (Jumbo-Visma) and the Belgian Lotte Kopecky (SD Worx).
The Women’s Tour de France will end next Sunday at the Super Planche des Belles Filles, the finish point of the seventh stage of its men’s counterpart.