(Copenhagen) “You interviewed all the Quebecers at the Tour de France? On Wednesday afternoon, at the Groupama FDJ hotel in a remote corner on the outskirts of Copenhagen, Antoine Duchesne kindly paid the head of the two Quebec journalists who wanted to meet him.
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The day before he had received a photo of a boarding pass for a trip from Montreal to Copenhagen. Guillaume Boivin informed him that he would join him and Hugo Houle in the Tour de France.
For the first time, the three Quebecois amigos are taking on a major tour together, and not just anyone.
Duchesne wondered if the news had gotten out. Israel Premier Tech (IPT) confirmed Boivin’s presence on social media half an hour later. As a “high-risk contact case” for COVID-19, Omer Goldstein, the only Israeli in Tour training, had to give up his seat. It is the Quebecer, first substitute to inherit it.
I found out Monday before catching a plane from Edmonton to Montreal. They asked me to do a PCR test. I knew what that meant.
Boivin, runner-up in the Canadian Championships where Pier-André Côté snatched him the second consecutive national title, therefore returned to Montreal to depart the next day.
Barely landed in Copenhagen, he jumped into his new shorts and jerseys on Wednesday afternoon to attend a meeting with the tour’s organization and then in the evening attend the team’s official presentation in the gardens of Tivoli, a large amusement park with an old-fashioned look .
The thousands of spectators had nothing but Christopher Froome, the four-time winner, cheering them on, and Jakob Fuglsang, the 37-year-old local hero hoping for a first stage win at the Tour.
“It’s definitely the best presentation I’ve attended,” said Michael Woods, Israel-Premier Tech’s other Canadian, who Duchesne says is at least “half” Quebecer, he who did his courses in the province and now owns a home in Chelsea.
Boivin enjoyed the moment. “I was hoping to come,” said the athlete from Longueuil. Since the beginning of the year I think I have my place. I’m just happy to be here. And I want to prove that it’s not for nothing. »
Despite the lack of sleep, the 33-year-old relies on “adrenaline” for the start of the tour, which begins on Friday with a time trial in the center of the Danish capital.
“It’s a privilege to do the tour,” said the man who was there for the first time last year. “It will never be given. It is not [la fatigue] which will prevent me from having a good tour and enjoying it. »
” I can not wait “
Boivin had taken a hard time not being selected last week. He had just competed in a series of races in Belgium when he had to queue for the Critérium du Dauphiné, one of the last major pre-Tour events. IPT had sent him there to earn UCI points and avoid relegation to the second division next year. In order not to start thinking, he had traveled to Edmonton to defend his national title.
After 12, 13 years in business, we are used to traveling left and right and experiencing strong emotions. It’s part of the job.
Eager to contribute to the success of his teammates Woods and Fuglsang, Boivin has one particular eye on stage, stage five, where the riders will take the cobblestone sections of Paris-Roubaix. Last year he was ninth in the famous classic, but was unable to express himself in the spring due to illness.
He expects a recovery next week. “I’ve been thinking for a long time. I love cobblestones, it’s no secret. I can not wait. »
David Veilleux is the first native Quebecer to compete in the Tour de France in 2013. Pierre Gachon, a Parisian who immigrated to Quebec as a teenager, is the first Canadian to compete in 1937.
For the first time, the tour will therefore count on three Quebecers, almost four. Last year, Houle and Boivin posed together in the setting sun on the Champs-Élysées. They hope to be even more numerous in the souvenir photo in three weeks.