September 27, 2021

Tour de France: July 14 to save the meager record of French riders?

David Gaudu undoubtedly imagined himself on the top step of the podium when he managed to loosen his companions in the breakaway pass in the Portet-d’Aspet pass, 36 kilometers from the finish. Missed ! He has never caught up with Patrick Konrad and France are still waiting for a second French victory in the 2021 edition of the Tour de France.

Since the first stage and the inaugural fireworks display by Julian Alaphilippe, the French have struggled to ignite the Tour. The world champion, despite multiple breakaways, does not manage to materialize a second time. Sprinters Arnaud Démare, Bryan Coquard and Nacer Bouhanni had to leave the Tour, the latter after being on the podium three times. There remain climbers David Gaudu (Groupama-FDJ) and Guillaume Martin (Cofidis), who are struggling to bring back a stage victory that they hunt with diligence.

However, in the history of the post-war Tour de France, July 14 has often smiled on French riders. Of the 67 stages contested on a national holiday since 1947, 18 have been won by the French, for a victory percentage of nearly 27%.

This year with a finish judged at the top of the Col du Portet, it will be necessary to look on the side of climbers David Gaudu and Guillaume Martin to hope to see a French winner. Unless a tricolor backpacker goes from afar to create a surprise.

• Warren Barguil in 2017

He is the last French to date to have won a stage on July 14. Best climber polka dot jersey on the shoulders, Breton won his first Tour de France victory at Foix, showing himself to be faster than Alberto Contador, Nairo Quintana and Mikel Landa. He can savor his revenge: a few days earlier, he had been beaten by a few millimeters by Rigoberto Uran in Chambery.

• David Moncoutié in 2005

Before that, France had experienced twelve years of famine on its national holiday. In 2005, it was David Moncoutié who fired fireworks for July 14. In a mid-mountain stage between Briançon and Digne-les-Bains, the climber of the Cofidis formation, present in the day’s breakaway, isolated himself in the lead, 37 km from the finish. It will never be taken back. Behind him, another Frenchman takes second place, Sandy Casar, for a tricolor double.

• Richard Virenque in 2004

That year, Richard Virenque won the stage at Saint-Flour after a breakaway that lasted 208 km. He then grabs the polka-dot jersey which he takes to Paris for the seventh time. Six years after the Festina affair where he was implicated, the Var is getting his revenge. He hangs up at the end of the season, at 35.

• Laurent Jalabert in 2001 and in 1995

On July 14, 1995, Laurent Jalabert played almost at home. He won solo in the final climb of Mende, at the top of the Croix-Neuve hill (3 km at 10%). A hill which will also be renamed ‘Montée Laurent Jalabert’ in 2005.

Six years later, rebelote for the Tarnais. He won the stage of July 14 between Strasbourg and Colmar.

• Laurent Brochard in 1997

Two years before the Festina affair, the team that gave its name to this doping case is at its peak. Laurent Brochard his teammate Richard Virenque are at the front with the German Jan Ulrich and the Italian Marco Pantani. Laurent Brochard succeeded in winning. All these runners will be overtaken by doping in their careers.

• Bernard Thévenet in 1975 and in 1970

In 1975, legend Eddy Merckx was looking for his sixth Tour de France. ‘The cannibal’ thought to achieve it but found the Frenchman on his way. Bernard Thévenet takes power during the final climb of Pra-Loup, where he overtakes the Belgian. He will finally win his first Big Loop that year.

He had already won on July 14 for his first Tour, in 1970.

• Jacques Anquetil in 1964 and 1961

Five-time winner of the Tour de France, the Normand Jacques Anquetil raised his arms twice on July 14, each time during a time trial. The first time in 1961 during a very long lap of 74.5 between Bergerac and Périgueux. The second in 1964 when he won the last half-stage of this edition between Versailles and Paris to conclude in the most beautiful way his fifth yellow jersey.

They also won a post-war July 14: Vincent Barteau (1989), Mariano Martinez (1980), Bernard Labourdette (1971) Raymond Delisle (1969), Roger Pingeon (1968), Jean Bourles (1957), Jean Robic ( 1953), Émile Idée (1949).