3rd du Tour de France in 1996 and 2nd in 1997, Richard Virenque always keep a watchful eye on the Big loop, which he will follow with our colleagues from Europe 1 this year. Two days before the Grand Départ, the seven-time winner of the polka dot jersey delivered his analysis to Cycling by evoking in particular Julian Alaphilippe (Deceuninck – Quick Step) et David Gaudu (Groupama-FDJ), which he sees well on the final podium, as well as Richie Porte (INEOS Grenadiers), one of his favorites.
Video – Richard Virenque’s analysis before the Tour de France!
“I will follow the Tour with passion, as usual”
Richard, are we going to see you on the Tour this year?
I won’t be on the Tour this year, but the good news is that I will be commenting with Europe 1. So I will follow the Tour with passion, as usual. In addition, at the end of July just after the Tour de France, I have a little challenge to do with the Alpine Odyssey team. We will leave Annecy to reach Nice, there will be several stages with a few passes to climb, and we hope that it will be done because with the Covid, it is complicated. But it’s in the forecast, so I’ve been training for a few weeks for that. The cycling activity has resumed for me.
Now let’s talk about the Tour de France and a rider you know well: Julian Alaphilippe. Can you imagine it in yellow from the first days in Brittany?
It is a beautiful challenge that he sets himself. The first stages are going to be tricky, but Julian can win one and grab the yellow jersey in the first week, of course. Anyway, it’s been three years since he marks the Tour of his borrows: when it is not the polka dot jersey, it is the yellow jersey, and when it is not the yellow jersey, it is a stage victory. On the French side, Julian is clearly the safe bet, but there are others who will also try to shine on this Tour.
Do you believe in any surprises on this Tour de France?
The Tour always creates nice surprises, as we saw last year when Pogacar dethroned Roglic at the last moment. Anything is possible, I think the course is quite tricky, and to win the Tour you won’t have to be trapped during the first few days. For me, everything will revolve around the INEOS team, they come with three cards to win the Tour. Behind, it will be complicated, but we will have a tough Tour. I hope that David Gaudu will burst the screen, this year I think he has taken on presence. I find it a tone above compared to last year. It may also be due to the absence of Thibaut Pinot, I don’t know, but in any case I feel it very well and I hope he will give us a good Tour.
“I wish Richie Porte would win the Tour”
Which is your favorite?
Of course there is Tadej Pogacar, Primoz Roglic, Richard Carapaz, Geraint Thomas … But I would add one, because I would like him to win the Tour, it’s Richie Porte. He’s been around for a few years, and even though he’s 35 he’s on the right team to win the Tour. He was always unlucky, he often went out the back door when he was in great condition. I would really like him to win the Tour, he has to be smart. Afterwards, Roglic and Pogacar will clearly be great opponents, but we’re going to have a good fight, and let’s hope that the French will get involved in all of this. But beware, the first week will be tricky, and if the weather conditions in Brittany, it can cause damage.
A quick word about Chris Froome, who returns to the Tour more than two years after his terrible injury …
It’s a great revenge already. He comes from far, far away. We have to give him time, next year he may be able to claim something on the Tour, but this year it’s too early. I wish him to win a stage, that would make me happy for him because he is a nice guy. In any case, it’s a nice gesture of courage on his part, but we had no doubts. I don’t think it will be his last Tour. I hope he wins a stage because it will make him want to go back to being what he was. There, it is reduced, and when you do not run for a long time it is physically complicated to come back to the highest level.
To conclude, who will be on the podium in Paris?
I will say victory for Richie Porte, Primoz Roglic second like last year and David Gaudu third, a French rider on the podium.