(Nyborg) Antoine Duchesne did not take the time to admire the wheat fields and the Great Belt Strait and its wind turbines in the final of the second stage of the Tour de France on Saturday.
Posted at 6:04 p.m
The Groupama FDJ cyclist had only one mission in mind: to keep his eyes straight so as not to worry about his leader, David Gaudu.
“I’ve 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 wasn’t watching or talking to anyone during the day. It was stressful, I was stressed out, you really had to be hyper-attentive. »
Shortly before the intermediate sprint, with almost 80 km to go, Duchesne was at the head of the peloton. Fearing the announced cross winds, the runners began to rub. Finally false alarm.
“David likes to run in front. That was sort of the buzzword. We didn’t want to apologize. We are several drivers who are there for this. We really had no information for crosswinds. It was important to us to be well positioned. »
Aside from the fall of Yves Lampaert in the yellow jersey, the crossing of the 17km bridge was virtually uneventful. With a strong headwind, the peloton slowed down in the second section and waited for the mass sprint.
“It was a really spectacular place,” noted Steve Bauer, Israel-Premier Tech’s athletic director. With a cross wind it could have gone crazy. In the end it was a mass sprint as planned. And we have a noble winner in Jakobsen. »
The Israel-Quebec team got a little scared when Chris Froome charged at the downed runners at the 2.5K mark. Fortunately, the Brit prevented the worst.
Thinking about joining the sprint, Guillaume Boivin was also slowed down by the stack and dodged it in extreme cases.
“These guys are fast, but with the wind in your face you never know if you’re going to take the right-hand wheel,” he said while sitting in one of the bus’s trunks. You can get a small result. Getting 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 take part in the hostilities and watched Jakobsen’s victory from behind.
“I was a bit too far, I didn’t feel like sprinting,” 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 tone too much.
“Fortunately, it wasn’t as hard as I expected,” explained Houle. At the start of the Tour de France, of course, there was the usual stress with many people, noise, changes of direction at the beginning of the stage. I was quite relaxed all day at the end of the main field. Some formations took a lot of energy to stay in place and avoid falling or breaking. »
His teammate Krists Neilands had a minor mishap when he hit the cobblestones on a passage over a culvert with 40km to go. But the Latvian got up quickly.
“We don’t have a five-star favorite for the general classification and we don’t have a 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. »
While Houle and Duchesne were doing very well, Boivin admitted he had heavy legs for the first 100km.
“I think it will have done me good, a long trip to really let go of the body trip. I’ll take the first three days here as I can, then hopefully with the transfer rest day on Monday I’ll have full control [cette semaine]. »
Michael Woods was relieved to have survived this second phase unconcerned. “It wasn’t too dangerous for a stage of the Tour,” 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 for Sunday in Sønderborg, the four Canadians are unlikely to play a leading role in stage three. Unless borders give ideas to Boivin, who still hasn’t received his bikes and suitcase, lost somewhere between Montreal, Toronto and Copenhagen.
We had to push our way through the dense crowd in Nyborg to get from the press room to the team buses, which were parked a kilometer from the finish line. On a run, please, because the runners don’t hang around. A quick shower and the whole group is ready to fly to the next hotel. Guillaume Boivin, who arrived first, emerged quickly enough to give an interview. Hugo Houle, he had to stay close to the finish area to submit to doping control. When he came back, the bus was about to leave. Now is not the time for an in-depth interview.
Matthews must return to Quebec
The defending Grand Prix Cycliste du Québec champion will return to Canada to attempt to double the lead on September 9th. Indeed, Michael Matthews has the only two WorldTour events held in America on his schedule, confirmed BikeExchange sporting director Matt White ahead of the start of stage two of the Tour de France on Saturday morning in Roskilde. A year before his Grande Allée success, the 31-year-old Australian had scored twice, winning in both Quebec and Montreal, emulating compatriot Simon Gerrans (2014). Matthews took 33e Rank of the stage judged in Nyborg. Belgian Wout van Aert, second in the first time trial on Friday in Copenhagen, also put the two Quebec GPs on his agenda for the first time.
A slap on the fingers
Stefan Küng, Antoine Duchesne’s teammate at Groupama, gave EF Team’s Reuben Guerreiro a small slap on the helmet. For his gesture, the Swiss was fined 500 francs and lost 20 UCI points.