Warren Barguil: “The top 10 is a nice reward for myself and for Arkea-Samsic”

Today’s Tour de France stage was an odd one. Because of the previous day’s violent thunderstorms, the organisers were forced to change the course, taking the Cormet de Roselend and the Col de Longefoy out and leaving the lone climb up to Val Thorens. Warren Barguil who was long helped by Elie Gesbert, fought to claim a top 10 finish in GC and achieve his goal.

Warren Barguil: “It was an odd day, I was expecting a different scenario with a bunched pack at the top of the last climb. We had Maxime Bouet in front, it was important to have someone in the break. Flo Vachon positioned me perfectly at the foot of Val Thorens, he’s good at that, he was of great help during the whole Tour. Then I had Elie with me, it’s important to have support. We caught Max, he gave me a bottle and helped me bridge a gap, it’s something you don’t always see but it’s what makes the difference. I attacked with 5km to go. At that time I was not thinking about he stage of the GC but just about opening a gap. It was a regular climb not exactly what I prefer but I had nothing to lose. Then I paid for my efforts and I hung on to finish as good as I could, my legs were hurting. At the end of the day I finished 29 seconds behind Bernal. I’m happy to be in the top 10 of the Tour de France, for the team and for myself it’s a very good result. My team trusted me, I worked a lot and I got back to my best level. A top 10 on the greatest race in the world is good and gives me confidence for the future. I like te three-week races, I’m tough and tenacious I think it’s my strength on the Tour de France and in the third week. We did not reach our initial goal of a stage win with me but the top 10 shows consistency and it’s not over yet, we still have tomorrow on the Champs Elysees.

Elie Gesbert: “The last climb of the Tour was long and the peloton did not leave a big advantage to the breakaway in which Maxime Bouet featured. In the ascent to Val Thorens, Jumbo-Visma set a very high pace. I did everything I could to stay with Warren. It was a short and intense stage. We knew it would be like this and I feel better in these circumstances than on a high mountain stage, it suits me better. Warren ends up in the top 10 but I regret for him that Friday’s stage was cut short because he was on his way to be even higher in the GC. As far as I’m concerned, I’ve had a good Tour de France even if I would have hoped for more especially in the stage to Gap.”

Yvon Ledanois, sports director: “I will drink Champagne on Sunday night. For us it’s mission accomplished, at the start in Brussels our goal was a stage win or a good result in the GC. The top 10 is a very good result and it is very important for Warren after a very complicated year, that he could follow up on his superb 2017 Tour and show it was no fluke. We didn’t win a stage in the mountains but we were there in the tough stages. We can do better for sure but the other good point is that the guys are finishing this Tour well and Andre Greipel is super motivated for Sunday’s stage. Elie Gesbert finished the Tour very well, he likes these lone climbs like Val Thorens. Today he was a source of comfort for his leader. Overall, and because everyone was committed, the Arkea-Samsic team had a great Tour. Now we need a good result form Andre  tomorrow and we will have a drink together. Sunday, the riders will take the place to Paris at 1300 and the staff will be driving back.”

Warren Barguil a few seconds from top 10

It was a very special day on the Tour de France as the race was stopped at the top of the Iseran after a hailstorm blocked the road in Val d’Isere. Warren Barguil was then in third place after just being overcome by Colombian Egan Bernal (Team Ineos), who claimed the overall lead, and Simon Yates (Mitchelton-Scott). The times were taken at the top of the pass and Warren Barguil lies 11th in GC.

Dans quel état d’esprit étais-tu au départ ce matin ? 
Warren Barguil : There was a lot of frustration after yesterday’s stage. I saw the break go all the way and Quintana get back into the GC game and I was not there. This morning, I really wanted to be in front. We played it well, my team mates did a great job, I hadn’t worked before the Cote St Andre. In the first climb I gave a lot, some told me I was too generous, but that’s how I see cycling. In the second week. I followed the best even if I enjoyed myself in the Tourmalet. Today I was aggressive and I wanted to be all in.

Can you tell us how the climb to the Iseran was ?
Warren Barguil : Elie did a great job before the Iseran, he sacrificed himself, I thank him for that. Then I was unsure whether I should attack but when I heard Thomas was going for it in the yellow jersey group, I told myself I had to make a move myself. I was caught by Bernal 1.5km from the top and then everything went fast. In the last 500m I took the time to take a bittle and a newspaper to have a good descent but I started to hear in the radio that the race would be stopped. Then I didn’t exactly know what to do, you slow down but you see some riders go full gas in the descent. There’s a bit of frustration because I crested the Iseran with the top five riders of the Tour but when I climbed into my manager’s car I saw the footage and I thought it was the good decision.”

What is your assessment of today’s stage? 
Warren Barguil : “On one side I rode a good stage but I think it could have been better because I had distanced Valverde, Porte, Quintana. I was on a good day but it did not reflect on the GC. It’s sport, I could also have crashed in the descent if the race had not been stopped. I look at the bright side and today I enjoyed myself: I attacked, I was one of  the first at top of the Iseran, and was in Bernal’s wheel.”

Were you expecting to have such a good level in the mountains on this Tour de France? 
Warren Barguil : “I’m proving to myself that 2017 was no fluke. I’m really happy to be back to my level I didn’t think it was possible and today I know I can improve. I was injured, I didn’t exactly know where I stood but I trained hard. I knew what I had to do and people around me motivated me.”

And tomorrow ? 
Warren Barguil : “One more day to be at full gas, I’m going to give everything.”

Warren Barguil still on course for a Top 10 

Nairo Quintana (Movistar) claimed a solo win the first Alpine stage of the Tour, marked by the presence in the breakaway of Amael Moinard. The Colombian moved into the top 10 of the GC. Warren Barguil, now 12th overall, admitted he was not on a great day but he is still in contact with the best and is on course to reach his objective.

Yvon Ledanois – sports director : « The big guns’ race started when Bernal (Team Ineos) attacked three kilometres from the top. Until then, the yellow jersey group rode a tempo but it was a fast race from the start. 34 riders escaped, including Amael Moinard. It was important that he was there. He gave everything to be in the front in the Col de Vars and Col d’Izoard and was there to feed Warren Barguil after Briancon. Warren was not on a great day and in these conditions, it’s good that he hung on and that he finished close to the best. Now there will be two races, the one to win the Tour and the one to be in the top 10, of which Arkea-Samsic is part.
The day Warren will be feeling good, he will have to race finely. Tomorrow and the day after tomorrow will be brutal with Ineos who will want to unsettle Alalphilippe with Bernal and Thomas. On the way to Tignes, it will be very difficult after a leg-snapping ride up the Col de l’Iseran.

Warren Barguil (12th in GC) : « I was good in the Izoard, I was not super in the Galibier. I was close to be up here with the best in the Galibier but I knew it would be hard to come back in the descent. I didn’t want to take too many risks. I’m at a good level, I was not that well today, I hope it was my bad day of the Tour.”

Amael Moinard : « Getting into the breakaway was the first big fight. It took a while to take shape. It went fast and with big names, it’s a good thing that I managed to be there. I hung on in the Izoard and I was caught in Briancon by Warren’s group. I was at my limit but I sheltered him fron the wind until the foot of the Lautaret, I gave him a last bottle and my job was done. I took my time in the last climb although I did not exactly had took time to enjoy the landscape. In the next two days there won’t be any surprises and I think it will be a fight between the top guns. Our goal will be to play first to be with Warren at the foot of the last ascent.”

Elie Gesbert and Warren Barguil in the front

Arkea-Samsic were everywhere during the 14th stage of the Tour de France. Elie Gesbert, who won the combativity award, was in the break all day and started the ascent of the Col du Tourmalet as the sole leader of the stage. He was reined in 10km from the finish before seeing his leader, Warren Barguil, attack and take ninth place that brings him closer to the top 10 in GC.

Yvon Ledanois: “I had a good day, it’s positive. We didn’t just show our colours, we took our responnsibilities and raced. Elie is getting better, he suffered a lot in the first two weeks and he was unhappy but he drew some confidence from his TT. I think it triggered him psychologically. IT’s great for him to be on his own like this in the Tourmalet. As for Warren, it was important for him to know Elie was there while he was also supported by Amael Moinard. When he attacked veryone was full gas so he was right to go. Seeing the differences at the finish if he had built a 40-second advantage he could have done something but he’s not far from the 2017 Barguil. The last week will be good for him when others will start to fade. It’s good that he went for him today. If he hadn’t moved he could have been fifth 20 seconds behind but now he knows he’s got good legs. He’s 13th overall tonight not far from the top 10 but he needs to stay focused on winning a stage, the GC will follow naturally.”

Warren Barguil : “In the Tourmalet, there was only Wout Peols (Ineos) to set the pace. Maybe I attacked too early. I thought it wass a false tempo and that it was good for me but it was not (laughter). At he end of the day it’s a good stage, I end up 9th. It’s good that Thibaut won, we thought on the road that it would be good if he could win. I come here often  and it felt good to be here in the finale, I’m happy with myself. After a tough 18 months, it feels good. I feel at the same level as 2017 but this year the overall level of the Tour is higher.”

Elie Gesbert: “I wanted to be in the break today. I went once with Nibali and Sagan but I didn’t overcook it andI waited for another group to come. 17 riders in the front, it was interesting but Groupama-FDJ controlled it and they never allowed us more than three minutes.
The first climb came fast and we were three with Nibali and Wellens – they wanted the KOM points. We were caught at the foot of the Tourmalet. Sicard attacked first, I went behind, caught him and went solo. For 5 km I enjoyed the cheers of the crowd, it was incredible and a real morale booster. At some point I realised I was ont he Tour de France in a final climb like the Tourmalet and I was the sole leader of the stage. The gap was small but you always need to believe in it otherwise you don’t take the start.I took some beating since the start of the Tour and today I had good sensations. Its a real pleasure.”

Warren Barguil : “I raised my level”- TDF stage 15

Warren Barguil was up there again in a stage won by Simon Yates (Mitchelton-Scott) and he continues to climb up the general classification of the Tour de France. After a very fast stage marked by the presence of Amael Moinard and Maxime Bouet in the breakaway, the French champion is now 12th in GC. We’re now heading into the second rest day in Nimes, where the Arkea Samsic leader will see the summits of the Alps.

Warren Barguil : « It was another nice day but it was tough. I didn’t wanna overcook it at the foot of the last climb, Romain Bardet (Ag2r-La Mondiale) helped me bridge thegap with Fuglsang (Astana) and I thank him for that, and I end up with the Dane again like yesterday. I like the long climbs, and less that kind of shorther ascents but it’s ok, I’m happy. I raised my level. Now I’ll wait for the Alps after a well-deserved rest day.”

Yvon Ledanois : « It was another crazy day, the pace was super high from the start and it never stopped. I can say that the rest day is most welcomed for a lot of riders knowing that we will go from a chilly weather to a heatwave — 35 degrees in the Alps. The tired bodies will suffer and there will be more surprises. Amael Moinard and Maxime Bouet did a good job iun the break that featured 11 riders from the top 30 in GC. There was a lot of quality up there and the lead was never too high. It was full gas allday. The Port de Lers cost a lot of energy, the Mur de Peguere made the difference. We were expecting it would be very complicated for Amael and Maxime. In the last climb, Warren dropped out of the favourites group but he did a fine ascent riding at his own pace. He finished close to the yellow jersey and ahead of a rider like Uran (Education First-Drapac). Aparrt from Pinot who did a great climb, everybody was at the limit. Tonight Warren is 12th in the GC, he’s up one spot but I think there will be surprises. The Alpine climbs and the heat will suit him, I don’t have a crystal ball but I’m trust him to claim a top 10 finish in Paris. But before that we have a rest day and it feels good.”

Amael Moinard : « It did not stop all day, it was a very difficult stage. I would have liked the breakaway to take shape before the first ascent but we were full gas. I managed to take a spot in the break but I spent a lot of energy to get there. When I saw who was there I did not have much hope. My goal was to hold on until up the Mur de Peguere but I punctured 4km before the Port de Lers. I managed to get back into the group at he foot of the climbs but some riders started to attack. I felt I was lacking strength. I’m happy I was in the front for a while but it was not ideal as I went from being in the break to being in the gruppetto without being able to help Warren. Tomorrow we will recover but I can’t wait to be in the Alps to see what we can do for Warren. It has been a very demanding Tour so far but we raced well. We were in the front and we were with Warren in the key moments. For now, we’ve managed the race very well.”

Elie Gesbert et Warren Barguil ont fait la course en tête

L’équipe Arkéa-Samsic a été omniprésente tout au long de la quatorzième étape du Tour de France. Elie Gesbert, désigné le plus combattif du jour, a été échappé toute la journée et a vécu un très grand moment en abordant, seul, l’ascension du Tourmalet. Repris à 10 kilomètres de l’arrivée, il a vu son leader Warren Barguil attaquer dans le final avant de prendre une très belle neuvième place lui permettant de se rapprocher à grand pas du Top 10 au classement général.

Yvon Ledanois : « J’ai passé une bonne journée, le bilan est positif. Aujourd’hui, on n’a pas montré le maillot, on a fait la course en prenant nos responsabilités. Elie Gesbert sort la tête de l’eau, il a été au bagne pendant deux semaines et il en était malheureux mais il s’est rassuré dans le contre la montre. Je pense que ça l’a débloqué psychologiquement. Il était échappé tout seul dans le Tourmalet, ça procure beaucoup de belles choses pour lui. Pour Warren, c’était important aussi de savoir Elie devant en étant soutenu jusqu’au pied du Tourmalet par Amaël Moinard. Quand Warren a attaqué, tout le monde était à bloc, il a eu raison de le faire. Au vu de l’écart à l’arrivée, en prenant un peu plus de temps, 40 secondes, il aurait pu jouer un coup mais il n’est pas très loin du Warren Barguil de 2017. La dernière semaine va être bonne pour lui quand d’autres vont décliner. C’est bien qu’il ait bougé aujourd’hui, s’il ne bouge pas il finit peut être cinquième et à vingt secondes mais il sait maintenant qu’il a de super jambes. Ce soir, au classement général, il est treizième, pas loin du Top 10 mais qu’il reste concentré sur notre objectif de gagner une étape, le général viendra avec. »

Warren Barguil : “Dans le Tourmalet, il restait seulement Wout Poels (Team Ineos) pour faire le tempo. J’ai peut-être attaqué un peu tôt. Je me suis dit que c’était un faux tempo et que c’était bon pour moi, mais en fait non (il rigole). Après, c’est une belle étape, je finis neuvième. C’est bien pour Thibaut Pinot, on s‘est dit en cours de route qu’il devait aller la chercher… J’ai l’habitude de venir ici, dans le Tourmalet et c’est bien que je sois dans le final, je suis content de moi. Après un an et demi de galère, ça fait du bien. Je me sens au même niveau qu’en 2017 mais le niveau de ce Tour est plus élevé.”

Elie Gesbert : “J’avais très envie de tenter l’échappée aujourd’hui. Je suis sorti une première fois avec Nibali et Sagan, mais je ne me suis pas enflammé et j’ai attendu qu’un gros groupe ressorte. 17 coureurs à l’avant, ça commençait à être interessant, mais l’équipe Groupama-FDJ a très vite contrôlé. Ils ne nous ont jamais laissés plus de 3 minutes. Le premier col est arrivé assez vite, on s’est retrouvé à trois devant avec Wellens et Nibali, ils voulaient surtout se disputer les points du grimpeur. On est repris par les poursuivants au pied du Tourmalet. Sicard a porté une première attaque, je suis sorti derrière, je l’ai rattrapé et je suis parti seul. Pendant 5 kilomètres, j’ai profité de la foule et des encouragements, c’était incroyable et ça fait un bien fou au moral. À un moment, j’ai réalisé : « Je suis sur la Tour de France, dans une montée finale comme le Tourmalet et je suis seul en tête ». L’écart était faible au pied mais il faut toujours y croire sinon il ne faut pas prendre le départ. Depuis le début du Tour, je me fais un peu taper dessus, aujourd’hui j’ai retrouvé de bonnes sensations, c’est un vrai plaisir. “

Warren Barguil claims top finish on the flat

Warren Barguil is restless. After benefiting from his team mates’ work after he was caught up in a pileup with 35 kilo;etres left, the French champion went with the sprinters in the streets of Toulouse to snatch an unexpected top 10 finish. No doubt, the Arkea-Samsic leader is in great form.

Warren Barguil : “With about 40km left there was a crash just in front of me. I managed to stop but a rider fell onto Anthony Delaplace, who fell onto me. We got started again as quickly as possible but when the peloton rides at 45 kph you can lsoe time fast. My team mates did a great job in bringing me back but they left a lot of energy for the upcoming sprint. In the last climb I told Andre to take my wheel, we were behind Jumbo-Visma but he ahd to brake in the last curve, too bad, I felt he was ready for a good sprint. I stayed in the line, I wanted to stay focused and take zero risk. I didn’t go fight with the sprinters. You have to be able to ride fast and working for a sprinter is somehting I like to do. Today is another story, I hope I will have the same legs as last week.”

Andre Greipel : «I was in a good position, not to win but to at least ride a good sprint. But I was slowed down by a chicane. Warren did a a great job!”.

Yvon Ledanois, sports director : « The rest day went well, the riders went for a ride with the team manager, Emmanuel Hubert, before resting. Getting things going again went fine. Today we had a little scare when Warren Barguil got caught behind Niki Terpstra’s (Total-Direct Energie) crash. He was in a third bunch but his team mates worked hard to get him back into position and he got a top 10 finish even if it’s not what we xpect from him. If a climber takes 10th place in a sprint finish it means he’s in top shape! Tomorrow he will be on his terrain. A breakaway will take shape in the first 120km and the pace will be high. It would be good if one of our riders could be in the break.
Then we will go up the Col de Peyresourde and if the pace is hight it will hurt. After a downhill the riders will be at the foot of the Hourquette d’Ancizans, which is a tough climb (10km at 8%). At the top, there will be 30km left before reaching Bagnères-de-Bigorre.”

Warren Barguil: “This is how I see cycling” – TDF 6

Warren Barguil attacked in the final ascent of the sixth stage of the Tour de France to La Planche des Belles Filles
He was long shepered by Elie Gesbert, the French champion made the race harder and boosted his confidence before finding terrains that suit him better. The stage was also marked by Andre Greipel’s presence in the break.l.

Warren Barguil: “It was not the ideal day. Just when I was taking a bottle in the second ascent a rider crashed in front of me. With only one hand on the handlebars, I could not brake. I fell, it was nothing serious but I had to make a first effort to get back into the peloton with my team mates. Them I had a problem with my front wheel, Florian Vachon gave me his and here we go again chasing the bunch. The guys were perfect. Kevin Ledanois and Anthony Delaplace put me in a good position at the foot of the penultimate climb. Then Elie Gesbert did a great job at the foot of the last ascent.
I attacked with 3.5km left, maybe I got carried away but I wanted to enjoy myself. That’s how I see cycling. It first backfired but then I kept a good rhythm. In the last 500 metres I gave everything. It was a nice stage, tonight I’m happy I’m back to a good level.”

André Greipel : “Today was not the kind of terrain that suits me. But I’d rather be in the front than suffer at the back. I managed to take on the last climb at my own pace without suffering too much.”

Yvon Ledanois – directeur sportif :  “Warren Barguil needs to attack. In this last ascent, Valverde worked for a long before pulling out and nobody maintained the pace. Valverde came back to the front again to instill a weird pace and Warren thought he could go. He was right. Landa caught him quickly and Ineos then really upped the pace and it hurt. Some leaders were in trouble. Our leader wanted to gain some confidence even on a climb that doesn’t exactly suit him. He prefers when it’s a biti less steep, and longer. On a team levels, in terms of mindset and in terms of results we are satisfied. We can always think it can be better but it’s not bad. Tomorrow will be a bunch sprint in Chalon sur Saone and there won’t be dozens of other opportunities for the sprinters.”

« This jersey is pure passion » Warren Barguil

Warren Barguil was all smiles on Sunday evening when he met the media. By becoming French champion, he ended a long period of doubt. He became himself again. For him and to his Arkea-Samsic team’s greatest satisfaction, a new cycle has just started.

Warren, what does this French champion title mean to you?
I think about the people who reached out to me during this difficult period and who have been positive with me. Those who had only negative comments, I leave them on the side. Yes, some people reach out to you when you hit rock bottom, they help you find solutions, it’s important and I thank them. There’s no revenge here, I think there are cycles in cycling. I am not superhuman. I’ve just been through a tough period but it’s not a revenge. I’ve always had these legs, I just had to find them back just like I had to find my morale again. I’m very happy with myself.

You had tough moments ?
I doubted. It’s not been easy, I wanted to quit cycling at some point but my wife has been supporting me a lot and I did not give up. I think that it’s life, there are tough moments and very good moments and I understand that the thing is to not give up. I thank my wife, my family and my team who all helped me through this. I told myself that if I quit cycling, I might come to regret it a week later and for my whole life. 

You always say that there’s more to life than cycling
Cycling is a pleasure for me, I never wanted to be a pro it was not my goal, and pleasure is a guide to my life. When I don’t enjoy myself, I can’t see why I should continue. I was starting to not enjoy it anymore and that’s why I doubted a lot. I don’t ride to make money or to justify my salary. It’s my passion, I love riding with my friends, or in a peloton. If this passion is gone and everything around me is negative, then I’d be better off selling cars, because I’ve been dreaming about this since I was a kid.I also know that critiques help you get better and you should not forget about the bad times. I’m tenacious, I’m courageous but a lot of parametres had changed. I changed teams and coach, it’s never easy. After 2017, I needed to take a break, I got married, I enjoyed my life, which is not all about cycling. I took nice holidays and then I tried to come back too quickly. At the beginning of the season, I was feeling good but I didn’t get lucky, I crashed heavily twice.But now I’m in a good place with two great news – I’m gonna be a dad and I’m French champion.

Is this title a relief ?
Tonight I’m thinking about myself and my team.  We knew it was a hard course and that the way the race unfolds is a factor. In Vendome, 10 years ago, I was in the early break , a big group came back and I jumped away with 10km left to become junior French champion. When you’ve been French champion once, you always hope it’s gonna happen again even if the course does not perfectly suit your abilities.

Your team did a great job in the breakaway?
When the breakaway took shape, we were four or five to bridge the gap, and I’m with Madouas and Martin. The pace was high. I told myself that if they would stop working behind and we could take three minutes it would be hard for the bunch to rein us in. The gap was the key. The whole team did a great job. Florian Vachon, our road captain, calmed me down two or three times and I thank him for that. When I’m in front I don’t like to hide, I find it useless. Some riders did that too much. I took a lot of turns but I wanted to put some life into this breakaway. At one point I thought we would not make it because a lot of riders stopped taking turns. Everyone was at the limit.

What happened two kilometres from the finish when you attacked ? Did you get cramps ?
I did not get cramps but my legs were hard and I saw that Madouas was coming back. I told myself it was useless to stay five metres in front of him. I waited for him. There were two Cofidis riders left for the sprint to one of them was gonna launch. Damien Touze did the job for Simon. Tulik launched the sprint, I gained speed and overtook them one by one, I told myself it was not possible. I waited for the last moment to start my sprint. It was not done until I crossed the line. Guillaume Martin did a great attack in the last kilometre but it was not enough. I had already burnt energy to rein Valentin Madouas in, I did not ask anything to anyone. I was feeling strong. I worked a lot on the distance to be in shape today. The distance is an important factor in a championship race. If it had been 200km the scenario would have been different. I don’t win often but when I do, it’s on big races. I’m proud of myself.

How do you feel about riding the Tour de France with the blue, white and red jersey?
Tomorrow I’m going on a recovery ride with the jersey, I’m super proud, it’s hard to think of myself with this jersey on the Tour. It’s incredible.  My goal will be to chase stage wins but being more intelligent than last year when I threw some chances away. I will try to be more clever and to not do too much. This jersey does not put pressure on me, it’s pure passion. The pressure comes during training when I do everything to be ready for the Tour de France.

Warren Barguil : “Not too bad ! “

The seventh stage of the Criterium du Dauphine, featuring four climbs in the space of 80 kilometres, unfolded in dantesque conditions. Poels (Team Ineos) won the day’s laurels after Kevin Ledanois and Jeremy Maison rode in the breakaway and Warren Barguil showed good form. The Arkea-Samsic team leader’s morale is good!

Warren Barguil : “I finished 1 :45 off the pace, I did not have the best sensations but I wasn’t stuck on the road. I was caught at the wrong end of a split in some crosswinds, I was not well positioned. I was dropped then and managed to stay about 30 metres the group in front for a while. It’s a pity because tackling this climb within a group would have been easier, but it is what it is. After a long period without racing you don’t get back to your best level in the blink of an eye. It’s going to come back and today was not bad !” 

Yvon Ledanois – sports director : ” Warren Barguil finished a minute and a half behind the Tour de France favourites, it’s not bad. But before I talk about him I want to say that the Arkea-Samsic rider shad a good stage in horrible conditions. Kevin Ledanois was very disappointed on Friday that he did not get into the breakaway but today he was there. After the cols de l’Epine and du Granier in a highly-contested stage, he crested the col de Marcieu 20 seconds behind Lutsenko (Astana) and Woods (Education First-Drapac) who were then in the lead, and he attacked at the foot of the final climb. Jeremy Maison also had a good day in this 25-man breakaway before being beaten by rain. It shows our riders should be aware of their qualities. Warren was dropped from a group of 15 with 10km to go but he stayed within 15 seconds of them despite the multiple accelerations in front on an ascent that required a lot of power. We can see that he’s much better than last season at this time of the year even if he started from far back after his two crashes during the Spring. Given that the third week of the Tour will be super hard and will require freshness, it is satisfying. He is in good spirits again. For us, the main goal is that he finishes the Criterium on an ascending form, with a smile on his face because he’s not far from the best and feeling he can do great things in July. There’s still one stage left, we’ll draw conclusions tomorrow, but it’s not too bad.”

Our two leaders in the front group

Our riders kept their wheels firm on the tarmac despite the windy contitions in the opening stage of Paris-Nice. Amael Moinard went ahead with Damien Gaudin and Romain Combaud in order to be in the front group in case of potential echelons. With about 60 kms to go, the wind split the peloton on a wind-exposed flat section with some riders ending up in a ditch. There were several splits in the bunch but Andre Greipel worked super hard to stay in the front and he was joined by Warren Barguil before both men worked hand in hand to stay in position. Struggling in the final climb, Andre Greipel managed to get back in the mix five kms from the line for the final sprint. The German was disappointed after taking 14thplace.

Andre Greipel (14th) : “It was tough, you had to be focused from the start to the end, it cost a lot of energy. I missed out on the front group in the last echelon1 but I managed to get back in five kms from the finish. In the first echelons I was feeling good. It was very nervy. With Warren we tried to stay together, to help each other, to talk to each other. In the finale, I got dropped before I fought my way back in but tonight I’m not happy with my sprint. I have to accept it. The last straight was a bit chaotic and I was well positioned but 10 seconds later I had to do it all over again. I hung up several times to be on the right wheel but then I did not have the legs for a good sprint. It’s Paris-Nice and nobody is going to give you a free ride to the line so we all have to fight. It will not be easy to get to the finish with fresh legs for a sprint but we’ll have to do what we can to be able to do that.”

Warren Barguil : “These days are interesting. You have to always be well positioned and focused. The 130 kms went by so quickly. Usually, I manage to be well placed and today I was following the good moves so it was nice. When the peloton started to split I was in the second group but I was with some favourites so I did not panic and I waited until we caught the leading group. Then I put myself well in front to avoid being caught off guard a second time. I did my best to help Andre. We helped each other a lot in the echelons. In the last climb, when Andre got dropped, I slid back to help him. I did the maximum to help him ahead of the sprint but everyone was tired and the sprint was chaotic. Obviously we all wanted to get a good result especially since we had been working so hard all day. But today could also have been a disaster. It’s Paris-Nice, anything can happen every day. After this first stage, I haven’t lost time. Back to it tomorrow!

Amael Moinard
(in the breakaway) : “We wanted so bad to have someone in the front in anticipation. We had a similar stage two years ago. When you anticipate, you are a step ahead and you can serve as a relay to help your leaders in case of echelons. It was not hard to get in the breakaway today because nobody wanted to go ahead. The peloton upped the pace after 30/40 kms. We dug deep to keep our advantage but we got reined in far from the finish and with the wind it was hard for three men. When I got caught there was an echelon and that’s where being in the breakaway paid off because I stayed with Andre and then Warren came back. At the top of the last climb I re-positioned Andre and Warren and that was the end of my day, I was cooked, I made a big effort because I knew that at the top of this hill we would be taking a right turn and there would be an echelon. I finished in the peloton so that I could give my bike to someone in case of a mechanical but with 10 kms left I just rode at my own pace.

Yvon Ledanois (sports director) : “The good point is that we finished with Warren and Andre in the first group at the end of a stage that was especially nervy and dangerous. On the flip side, I would have liked to see one or two riders with them but we can’t ask for too much. By taking the breakaway Amael Moinard stuck to the plan and it was a good morale boost for his leaders to see him with them in the echelon. Elie Gesbert was not in a good day and he paid for it. Bram Welten punctured at the beginning of the stage when the peloton was splitting and he also paid the price for it, which is logical. It was a demanding stage in which being well positioned was crucial. The sprint was all about how energy left you had. Even if the stage was only 138.5-km long, everybody finished how they could. I think Andre spent a lot of energy staying in a good position in the echelons and it backfired in the sprint.

Tomorrow we’ll be at it again, let’s not get carried away. Some leaders have lost time. For us it’s one stage checked off our list but also a sprint opportunity that’s gone. We have to focus on this and make sure that Andre can sprint in good conditions tomorrow.”