On the eve of the first mountain weekend in the Alps, where climbers will be able to get out of the woods and express their talent, a cycling follower is usually excited like a chip at the idea of the adventures that will finally brighten up his aftermath. midday, after a few days of napping at the back of the sofa. But this year, the start of the Tour offered more cold sweats and tachycardia than boredom to its millions of viewers.
A route conducive to adventures
First responsible for this lively race: the layout of the start of the Tour. First scheduled for Copenhagen, the big start of this edition has been postponed in Brittany, in Brest. Brittany, whose small roads and beautiful coasts offered four beautiful first stages, including two with finishes at the top of sacred climbs. Courses that evoke one-day races and which have adopted the scenario with their frequent and brittle attacks.
READ ALSO : Tour de France 2019: the return of the glorious uncertainty of sport
In the streets of Landerneau then in the rise of Mûr-de-Bretagne, Julian Alaphilippe and Mathieu Van Der Poel, new world cycling cracks, offered a grandiose spectacle, unusual at the start of a grand tour. These unbridled personalities are the new dynamites of a sport often criticized for its monotony, and they have found in this year’s layout a perfect ground to express their talents.
Mathieu Van Der Poel in particular lived up to the weight of history that weighed on his shoulders as the grandson of Raymond Poulidor, who died in 2019. By seizing the yellow jersey on the second evening, after having expressed all the strength from his body of a cyclocross rider accustomed to violent efforts, he added to a lively race the breath of a beautiful story, of those which make cycling a legendary sport.
Falls blast the forecast
Another responsible, this unhappy one, of the animation of this start of the Tour, the number of falls. Caused by an imprudent or by the stress of the peloton, they were massive, worrying, and upset the plans of some teams. Great favorite in the fight for the green jersey for the best sprinter, Australian Caleb Ewan had to retire. Direct consequence: the ghost Mark Cavendish, whose participation we learned at the last moment, pocketed – almost miraculously – two stages. His pursuit of the record for Tour victories, 32 to 34 for Belgian King Eddy Merckx, has become a race within a race.
Finally, on the side of the general classification, the yellow jersey should not remain on the shoulders of Van der Poel at the end of the high mountain weekend. And behind, a sacred selection was made between the contenders for the title. Geraint Thomas, winner in 2018, and Primoz Roglic, who lost the yellow jersey the day before the arrival in 2020, are in bad shape, also affected by the falls.
Tadej Pogacar, 22, surprised his world on Wednesday by taking the time trial in the streets of Laval after 30 bollards of solitary effort at more than 50km / h on average. We expected him to have a good time, but exercise specialists like the Swiss Stefan Küng, no one had bet on it. The title holder has become the best candidate for his succession. But the team lined up to protect him from the attacks of other competitors is not up to the Sky squadron which allowed Chris Froome to win four Tour de France, and lock the bike of the 2010s. From this July 2 and the 250km stage, a crossing of the Morvan which recalls the epics of cycling of the 1950s, the attacks were launched to put the young Slovenian in difficulty. Rarely has a Tour de France aroused such emotions so early.
READ ALSO: “The popular dimension of the Tour is really essential”, says the mayor of Tour-du-Pin, the sixteenth starting city