She came when we no longer believed in it. Our last hopes had melted Thursday, when Thibaut Pinot had let go 8 km from the goal, deposited like a vulgar parcel at the relay point by the wringer Wout van Aert on the climb to Hautacam. And then the miracle, when . Christophe Laporte, model teammate of Jonas Vingegaard in the all-powerful Jumbo-Visma, emerged just before the red flame, in Cahors, to take over the leading trio and then set off alone towards a victory which seemed promised to the sprinters. The first French success on this Tour de France, two days before the finish on the Champs-Élysées.
So here is the tricolor balance sheet saved, and how. While we thought that Laporte would take van Aert in a bunch sprint, as usual, the former Cofidis rider played his personal card. His Belgian teammate says: “I wasn’t very well today, in the middle of the stage I said to the guys and to Christophe “it’s for you, you have to do the sprint”. But he did better, he attacked. It makes me really happy. »
If he attacked, it is because Laporte, a good sprinter, is not one of the fastest either. He knew it, of course, so he maneuvered like a boss to pull out of the game as the peloton tumbled at more than 60 km / h through the streets of the Lot prefecture. “I was really well placed, because we wanted to place Jonas in front, and then I saw a small break, so I jumped to go, explains the hero of the day. I didn’t really hesitate, I knew it was lucky for me because in a bunch sprint, I’m too tight. »
“He is already a great friend”
After a few hundred meters in the wheel of the three fugitives (including Frenchman Alexis Gougeard) about to be caught, the sprinter-puncher decided it was time to fly away. “When they started to get a bit short, I pressed on the pedals without looking back. I even got to savor a bit before the line. The perfect tactical move. “It’s played in a fraction of a second, and I don’t regret my decision,” he revels in. We do want to believe it.
It’s a hell of a great reward for Christophe Laporte, who received Jonas Vingegaard’s tribute on Wednesday evening after his success (almost) sealing his victory on the Tour, for all the work accomplished since the start in Denmark. “He deserved this victory, really. I am so happy for him, ”welcomed the yellow jersey again on Thursday. The Varois took the wind, rolled as soon as he could in the mountains, even slipped into a breakaway on complicated terrain to serve the tactics of the Dutch formation. Arrived last winter, the Frenchman is adopted. “He is already a great friend, he has done a lot for us on this tour, but also for me in the spring. [sur les classiques], notes van Aert. It’s crazy that he ends up like this. »
It is also a personal reward, he who worked like hell to make his mark in the Dutch juggernaut, which crushed the race with five stage victories, the yellow jersey, the green jersey and the polka dot jersey. “We are doing an incredible Tour. It’s a lot of sacrifices too, I haven’t seen my family a lot, I had to spend a week at home in the last three months, describes Laporte. But when you see that it pays off on the pitch…”
La France du vélo says thank you in any case, as it prepares to put away the year 2022 alongside 1999 and 1926, the only two in history without tricolor success. “I also told myself that it was going to be hot for a French victory, smiles David Gaudu, who will be the first Frenchman overall with his beautiful 4th place. It’s good for everyone, and then Christophe is a very nice person in the peloton, I’m happy for him. At 29, the eternal teammate deserved a little light.