Wednesday, May 22, 2024

Le Tour de France 2014 – Stage 11; Besançon – Oyonnax, 186 km. Tony Gallopin Encore.


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Tour+de+France+logoVeloVeritas owes an apology to the Frenchman who rides for that most Belgian of teams, Lotto’s Tony Gallopin; we thought he’d had his ‘day in the sun,’ wearing le maillot jaune on Bastille Day.

And if we may digress for a moment; since World war Two the jersey has been worn on Bastille Day by a French rider on 17 occasions, including Anquetil on five, Hinault three times with Bobet and Tommy Voeckler both achieving this feat twice – as well as Monsieur Gallopin, this year.

‘Rock On’ Tommy V was also the last French rider to wear yellow, for 10 days in 2011 (and for 10 days in 2004, also) and before that it was Chava, two days in 2010; Romain Feillu, one day in 2008 and Cyril Dessel, one day in 2006 – and that’s your whack for the last decade.

But back to Tony – he may well slide down the classement when we hit the big mountains but not without a fight.

He was the man who wanted it most, today – bombing the big descent solo in the last 15 kilometres, getting reeled in, going with the small counter move in the last minutes then attacking whilst Sagan and Kwiatkowski squabbled, to win alone in front of a frantic pack of Classics specialists.

Degenkolb, Gerrans, Sagan and Van Avermaet were all snapping at his heels.

Tony Gallopin
Tony Gallopin takes the stage – just! Photo©B.Bade/ASO

Gallopin comes from a famous cycling dynasty; Tony’s granddad and grandma had nine children, of whom five became involved in cycling, one way or another.

  • Gerard (67) never raced but has adopted the role of father figure and advisor to his younger brothers.
  • Andre (65) never raced as a professional but did race as an amateur in the 60’s.
  • Joel (61) is Tony’s dad and rode pro for BP-Lejeune and Mercier between 1978 and 1982 riding le Tour four times and taking a Tour of Corsica stage.
  • Guy (58) was a pro from 1981 until 1987 with Sem, La Redoute, Skil, Kas and ANC riding le Tour on six occasions. He won stages in the Dauphine and Tour du Vaucluse as well as making the podium three times in Bordeaux-Paris; not a race for the faint hearted. He’s currently a DS with BigMat-Auber 93.
  • Alain (57) won the Paris-Mantes Classic as an amateur in 1981 and rode pro for one year with Sem in 1982 – he’s now DS with Trek (and a ‘nippy sweetie’ if you ask him questions at the wrong time.)

Young Tone was born in 1988 in Dourdan but now lives in Angerville.

He showed promise from an early age; finishing second in the Junior Chrono Herbieres in 2005, winning the same event the following year and finishing third in both the World Junior Time Trial and Road Race Championships.

In 2007 he was second in the French U23 TT Championship and in 2008, having signed with Auber 93 won the U23 Paris-Tours.

He stayed with Auber in 2009 and riding a tougher programme the palmares were harder to come by with perhaps eighth in the GP Cristal Energie (a race Dan Craven has won) his best result.

Cofidis was ‘home’ for 2010 and he took a stage in the Tour of Luxembourg and rode le Tour.

He stayed with the credit over the phone boys for 2011 and won the Fleche de Emeraude at Saint Malo and a stage in the Tour du Limousin; riding le Tour, again.

RadioShack was the name on the jersey for 2012, taking third on GC in the Tour of Oman and sixth on GC in the Tour of Bavaria – and rode his third Tour.

Last year he gained his biggest result –again with Trek – in winning the Clasica San Sebastian and riding a fourth Tour de France.

This year he was top ten on GC in Paris-Nice, third in Brabantse Pijl, sixth in the GP E3 before he became a bona fide Tour de France Hero.

And the lovely lady by his side at the finish is his fiancée, 22 year-old Marion Rousse who also rides for Lotto and was French Ladies Road Race Champion in 2012.

Tony Gallopin
Marion Rousse.

By happy coincidence we managed to pick up L’Équipe today – the issue which celebrates Tony’s tenure in yellow.

There’s a lot of Tour coverage apart from Gallopin; the Plateau des Belles Filles climb – scene of Nibali’s second ‘coup’ – gets a full analysis and we’re reminded that with a stretch at 20% it contains the steepest gradients of the entire Tour.

Tony Gallopin
Great cover on L’Équipe today. Photo©Ed Hood

Thibaut Pinot’s snakes and ladders form is analysed too – and he’s getting up those rings very nicely thank you in this Tour, thus far.

And there’s a nice feature on Tony Martin reminding us that Martin, Greipel, Kittel and Degenkolb all come from what use to be East Germany and in their formative years had the Ludwig, Zabel and Ulrich as role models – obviously before we all discovered that Erik was one of the finest ‘method’ actors of his generation.

And the British media’s coverage of the Tour remains good with William Fotheringham giving us 10 ‘talking points’ from le Tour in The Guardian.

Some of them are a tad tenuous but one I do agree with is that Peter Kennaugh should have been in the Sky Tour team, he was obviously on great form in winning the British Road Race Championships and endorsed that with a GC win in the Tour of Austria.

Tony Gallopin
Vincenzo Nibali is looking more and more like the winner-elect. Photo©B.Bade/ASO

Stage 12 is a Sprinters’ Teams v. Escape Artists bout; a hard one to call but this whole Tour has been like that – and we’re not complaining.

And as we prepare to post this piece we hear that Britain’s first Tour de France stage winner, Brian Robinson has been knocked off his bike by a car whilst out for a spin.

VeloVeritas wishes Brian a speedy recovery and is sad that whilst the British public may love the razzamatazz of le Tour and it’s Grand Départ, the nation’s drivers still do not respect those of us who ride a bicycle.

A demain.

Tony Gallopin
The town of Arbois welcomes the race. Photo©B.Bade/ASO