(Nyborg) Antoine Duchesne did not take the time to admire the wheat fields and the Great Belt strait and its wind turbines on Saturday in the final of the second stage of the Tour de France.
Posted yesterday at 6:04 p.m.
The Groupama-FDJ cyclist had only one mission in mind: to keep his eyes straight ahead to avoid any worries for his leader, David Gaudu.
“I have rarely been so focused,” said the Quebecer at the end of the event where everyone returned home safe and sound, at the same time as the winner, Fabio Jakobsen.
“I didn’t watch anything or talk to anyone during the day. It was stressful, I was stressed, you really had to be hyper attentive. »
Approaching the intermediate sprint, with just under 80 km to go, Duchesne was at the front of the peloton. The runners began to rub, for fear of the announced side winds. Finally, false alarm.
“David likes to run up front. That was kind of the watchword. We didn’t want to make excuses. We are several riders who are there for that. We really didn’t have the information for side winds. It was important for us to be well placed. »
Apart from the fall involving yellow jersey Yves Lampaert, the crossing of the 17km bridge was virtually uneventful. With the strong headwind, the peloton slowed down in the second section, waiting for the bunch sprint.
“It was a really spectacular place,” noted Steve Bauer, sporting director of Israel-Premier Tech. In the event of a side wind, it could have been crazy. In the end, it was a bunch sprint as planned. And we have a noble winner in Jakobsen. »
The Israeli-Quebec team had a little scare when Chris Froome charged towards runners lying on the ground at the 2.5 km mark. Fortunately, the Briton avoided the worst.
When he thought about joining the sprint, Guillaume Boivin was also slowed down by the stack, dodging it in extremis.
“These guys are fast, but with the wind in the face, if you take the right wheel, you never know,” he said, sitting in one of the trunks of the bus. You can make a small result. Being caught behind the fall was pretty much the end of my day. »
Hugo Houle, he went to the line without slowing down, but did not join in the hostilities, watching Jakobsen’s victory from behind.
“I was a little too far, I had no interest in going for the sprint,” explained Houle, 21e On the string.
A “calculated risk”
The two Quebecers from IPT took care of the grain for their leader Jakob Fuglsang, without forcing the note too much.
“Fortunately, it wasn’t as hard as I expected,” explained Houle. There was obviously the usual stress at the start of the Tour de France, with a lot of people, noise, changes of direction at the start of the stage. Me, I was still quite relaxed at the back of the peloton all day. Some formations took a lot of energy to stay in place and avoid any fall or break. »
His teammate Krists Neilands had a small mishap by visiting the cobblestones during a passage over a culvert 40 km from the finish. But the Latvian got up quickly.
“We do not have a five-star favorite for the general classification and no sprinter, recalled Boivin, 39e. We took a calculated risk, if you will, by staying behind because it was relatively easier, even if the stage was still nervous. We did well. »
If Houle and Duchesne felt very well, Boivin admitted that he had heavy legs over the first 100 kilometers.
“I think it’s going to have done me good, a long outing to really let go of the body trip. I’ll take the first three days here as it goes, then with the transfer rest day on Monday hopefully I’ll be in full control [cette semaine]. »
Michael Woods was relieved to have passed through this second stage without worry. “For a Tour stage, it wasn’t too dangerous,” said the Ottawa cyclist. But there were crashes and the peloton was still stressed. I managed to do my best. »
With another sprint finish scheduled in Sønderborg on Sunday, the four Canadians are unlikely to play a leading role in stage three. Unless borders give ideas to Boivin, who has still not received his bicycles and his suitcase, lost somewhere between Montreal, Toronto and Copenhagen.
It took nudging through the dense Nyborg crowd to make our way from the press room to the team coaches, parked a kilometer from the finish line. At a run, please, because the runners don’t linger. A quick shower, and the whole group is ready to take off to the next hotel. First to arrive, Guillaume Boivin came out quickly enough to give an interview. Hugo Houle, he had to stay near the finish area to submit to doping control. When he returned, the bus was about to leave. Now is not the time for an in-depth interview.
Matthews must return to Quebec
The defending champion of the Grand Prix Cycliste du Québec will return to Canada to try to double the lead on September 9. Michael Matthews has indeed put the only two WorldTour events contested in America on his program, confirmed Matt White, sports director of BikeExchange, before the start of the second stage of the Tour de France, Saturday morning, in Roskilde. A year before his success on the Grande Allée, the 31-year-old Australian had scored twice by winning both in Quebec and Montreal, imitating his compatriot Simon Gerrans (2014). Matthews took 33e rank of the stage judged in Nyborg. Belgian Wout van Aert, second in the initial time trial on Friday in Copenhagen, also put the two Quebec GPs on his agenda for the very first time.
A pat on the fingers
Stefan Küng, Antoine Duchesne’s teammate at Groupama, gave a small slap on the helmet of Reuben Guerreiro, from the EF team. For his gesture, the Swiss was fined 500 Swiss francs and lost 20 UCI points.