On this Tour de France 2022, the Jumbo-Visma takes care of everything, don’t bother. When France despairs of seeing one of its own raise its arms, the Dutch team appoints Christophe Laporte to save the honor of the host country and win the 19e stage in Cahors, Friday 22 July.
To win the hearts that would still remain indifferent to his total cycling, the yellow jersey team, Jonas Vingegaard, could not have dreamed of better. « I think it’s the first French victory, so I’m happy for all the French »slipped on arrival one of the sports directors of the Dutch formation, Grischa Niermann.
From Castelnau-Magnoac (Hautes-Pyrénées), however, the plan was not to end these 38 stages of scarcity for tricolor cycling, fanny since Julian Alaphilippe’s victory in Landerneau (Finistère) in 2021. “The tactic was first to protect Jonas [Vingegaard]assures Niermman. We knew there was wind and that it could be a tricky stage. »
For Christophe Laporte, it was the promise of a new hard day for his yellow jersey. Not serious. At 29, the Varois knows the rules of the game since his arrival at the Jumbo at the start of the season. This role of luxury team member, capable of transforming into a replacement leader if the circumstances so require, suits him like a glove. After all, he won his first race in the Word Tour, the world elite, during the first stage of Paris-Nice in March with the blessing of Wout van Aert.
Smarter than sprinters
Wout and Christophe, these two found each other. Christophe Laporte sees the Belgian « like the best runner in the world » and this one considers his right arm in the classics « like a great friend » at the microphone of France 2. And between friends, we tell each other everything.
This Friday, the green jersey told him to have « heavy legs ». Yes, that can happen when you’ve been running flat out for three weeks and you’ve disgusted all the climbers in the old peloton. Wout van Aert therefore freed Laporte, once Jonas Vingegaard warmed up in the last three kilometers.
Before, there was this attack neither seen nor known by Tadej Pogacar 35 kilometers from the finish, but the Slovenian likes to tease, a little « troll » on the edges. Nothing more. Too often deprived of dessert in this Tour for their taste, the sprinters were preparing to finally explain themselves between big thighs and crazy handlebars.
Christophe Laporte tells the rest. “At the three kilometers, Jonas was well placed and I was told in the headset that I had carte blanche… After the little chicane, there was a little break, I did the job to go there. » The former Cofidis team returns to the aspiration of the last three fugitives (Alexis Gougeard, Fred Wright and Jasper Stuyven) and delays his attack. Smart. He still benefits a little from their aspiration « before giving everything to 500 meters » and to be one second ahead of Jasper Philipsen (Alpecin-Deceuninck) first of the beaten sprinters.
It was the right decision at the right time, “to be taken in a fraction of a second”, the one who has sometimes lacked this talent for a long time encumbered by her doubts and an always perceptible shyness. On the Grande Boucle as in certain classics, Christophe Laporte has often turned around. In Pau in 2018, he was furious at coming to die half a bike from Arnaud Démare after a stormy sprint. Same regrets three years later, when he hesitates to respond to Matej Mohoric’s attack and still takes 2e place in Libourne.
“The guy from the South who loved cobblestones”
At the time, the native of La Seyne-sur-Mer was already discussing with the leaders of the Jumbo. He feels the need for a change of scenery, to put himself in danger. Some are crying foul. Christophe Laporte deserves better than a servant’s role, they say. The interested party gives his answer on the bike. He has never seemed as strong as in this spring: he misses the jackpot twice on the Flandrian classics (2e in Ghent-Wevelgem and at the E3 Grand Prix).
“My time at Jumbo contributed 100% to my victory today, he said. It’s a lot of work upstream the last two months: I spent six weeks of training at altitude before the Tour de France, it’s a huge preparation, far from the family. Nothing is left to chance in this team – the preparation, the nutrition, the equipment…”
Alain Deloeil knows the winner of the day well. For eight years, the sports director of Cofidis was the “referent” for this defector from mountain biking. “Very happy for him”the Northerner sees him land again in training at the start of the season in 2014: “He had this nonchalant air. He was the guy from the South but who liked the cobblestones, the classics. He found his way, progressed from year to year to win his first stage on the Tour. »
Too bad if she arrives a few months after her departure. Alain Delœil has nothing against the Jumbo and its gluttony (five stages, a green jersey and a yellow jersey in the shop): “We should copy them more than criticize them. » If Christophe Laporte already has notions of Dutch to translate the instructions for use, French cycling is only asking to read it.
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