Guimard: “Pogacar will win a 3rd Round? Not so sure”

Cyrille Guimardback for his column on Cyclism’News ! Between the terrible fall of Julian Alaphilippe (Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl), the prestigious victory of Remco Evenepoel on Liege-Bastogne-Liege and the return to the top of two French runners, Romain Bardet (Team DSM) and Thibaut Pinot (Groupama-FDJ), which performed on the Tour of the Alps… in other words, the news is busy at the end of April! We therefore needed to analyze the Druid to make a full point. While also evoking the 106th edition of the Tour of Italy which will start next Friday, the former coach of the France team provided his expertise on these many subjects, and much more.

Video – Cyrille Guimard’s chronicle after Liège-Bastogne-Liège!

“These kinds of events must constantly remind us that cycling is a dangerous sport”

Cyrille, what do you remember from Liège-Bastogne-Liège which was disputed this Sunday? The victory of Remco Evenepoel who wins his first Monument, the serious fall of Julian Alaphilippe or the emotion of Romain Bardet?

I think we remember everything. There is a very beautiful winner and there is this drama of the fall that we encounter unfortunately and of which we are sometimes the witnesses during a season. This is therefore part of the risks, minimizing them is a duty. And there is all the emotion behind this fall. I think Romain (Bardet) has summed it all up, I don’t think we can add anything else… It’s also the risks we have in this sport, which is a sport where falls are constantly on the watch, either by errors or careless mistakes by one or two runners. There is also the lack of visibility, you have to know that when you are in the peloton, from the 15th-20th position, you are practically blind.

So yes, these are dramatic things but apart from if we ban the races, there will no longer be this kind of event. This is not possible and not desirable either. There are also other sports where the risk is very present. What must be said all the same is that we refuse the risk but we accept it when we take the start of a race. We know that we can be the victim of a fall. Two years ago, Evenepoel missed a bend and fell heavily… This kind of event should constantly remind us that cycling is a dangerous sport. We must try to put in place certain adequate means to avoid this type of event as much as possible, knowing that zero risk does not exist. But it is clear that we had to react and I appreciate Romain’s message.

“The Tour de France objective is not too much in Alaphilippe’s head today”

The balance sheet is particularly heavy for Julian Alaphilippe. To what to expect now? His participation in the Tour de France is clearly questioned…

I am not a doctor even though I have been confronted throughout my career with trauma related to falls. We don’t know the file. We received a press release from his team which tells a lot of things but which is not obliged to say everything with medical secrecy. One thing is certain, it hit hard and did a lot of damage… I think the Tour de France objective [1er-24 juillet, Ndlr] is not too much in his head today. It’s more about healing. I think that at the level of the executives of his team, we are more in this approach and then we will see in 15 days to see how things have evolved. But if he cannot resume normal training before June 1, it is obvious that his participation in the Tour will be called into question.

To come back to the sporting aspect of Liège-Bastogne-Liège, did Remco Evenepoel win the victory he was missing in his career to take another step?

I think it was the victory he needed to erase the Tour of Lombardy 2020. Before his heavy fall, he had won everything by winning almost all the stage races on his program. He was stopped for very long months, with rehabilitation afterwards… Last year, he resumed a little too early on the Giro and then he does not have the physical means to make a good end to the season 2021 and to be at his level. It took him a year to come back well, but it’s true that at the start of the season Evenepoel “grazed”. He was present but we saw him give up on certain climbs where he could have made the difference. On Liège, we found the Remco before its fall. His potential, he was there and we just need to be able to exploit him, train him, prepare him to find certain qualities and that’s what he found in Liège.

“The Classics? What we can remember is the slowdown of Quick-Step”

Remco Evenepoel has become the youngest winner of Liège-Bastogne-Liège since 1968…

Now you can win the Tour de France under 23. Before, the great champions won the Tour at 23, whether Jacques Anquetil, Felice Gimondi, Eddy Merckx, Bernard Hinault, Laurent Fignon… Today, you can win the Tour de France at 21. There is an age gap. Before, we reached 23 years or after 23 years in the peloton. You have riders today who are in the peloton and in the World Tour as they come out of juniors. I want to say that the human being has progressed. The average size of the population has notably increased over the last 30 years, almost by 20 centimeters. Young people are thus stronger at 18-19 now than 23-year-olds in the 1950s, 1960s, 1970s and even 1980s.

What do you remember from the Classics period?

Building on the momentum of last year when the races were less and less controllable as well as the tactics questioned, we can say that it has continued this season. What was important and what we can remember is the slowdown of Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl even if Remco Evenepoel won Liège-Bastogne-Liège. It is still the only major race that has been won by this team in 2022. We expected Wout Van Aert to be at the top but he was below after catching the Covid. Several teams had runners who were not competitive due to bronchitis, flu or the Covid. I also believe that there have never been so many health problems in the teams. So, it is difficult to make a real assessment. The only thing we can say is that we had some great races.

“We have the return to the forefront of Bardet and Pinot on a sporting level”

Last week on the Tour des Alpes, we witnessed the first victory of Thibaut Pinot after 1007 days of waiting and that of Romain Bardet on the general classification. What should we think of these successes?

What should be remembered is that the French were very present with also the victory of Geoffroy Bouchard. And of course, we have the return to the forefront of Romain Bardet and Thibaut Pinot on a sporting level. Thibaut’s victory is a success that will do him good in the head and that will allow him to have a click to find the desire to win. Concerning Romain’s victory over the general, it has another flavor and does not have the same meaning. Bardet was the strongest in the race and Pinot was the strongest in the breakaway. We cannot put these two victories on the same level. But symbolically, it’s important for both: Romain needed it and Thibaut too.

Can we see some very good Thibaut Pinot again with a view to the Tour de France 2022?

I hope so ! Thibaut will be 32 in a month [le 29 mai prochain, Ndlr] and he is still in his prime. We will see some very good Thibaut Pinot again if he wants it too. He has to stay in this trajectory.

What about Romain Bardet as the 106th Giro approaches (May 6-29). Can he win it?

I didn’t really watch the course, nor the lap times which are still a difficult test for Romain. He always wastes a little time on the other favorites. I think that with his serenity, his rediscovered smile and his relaxation, we can have great Bardet on the Tour of Italy and perhaps even the same one we knew on the Tour de France when he rode two times on the podium.

“Lenny Martinez, Romain Grégoire… it feels good!”

A word about the young French people who are doing well with Lenny Martinez and Romain Grégoire for example…

It’s good that, a few years late, we are starting to have runners who arrive on the front of the stage with less than 20 years of age. What Lenny Martinez did on the Tour of the Alps is still very reassuring. There were still five stages… He was not in difficulty and held his rank. He makes a top 20 [14e du classement général, Ndlr], at 18 it’s still not bad. And then there is Romain Grégoire who asserts himself a little with each race. We had discovered it a little on a media level during the French cyclo-cross championships. And there, he confirms with three successes including Liège-Bastogne-Liège. These are two things that are doing well, but there are two or three others that are doing pretty well too.

“The hat-trick for Tadej Pogacar on the Tour de France? I’m not so sure about it”

The Classics over, what can we expect from the second part of the season with the Giro and the Tour de France in particular?

I hope it will live up to the premiere with suspense and sometimes very unbridled racing. We enter another system, that of stage races. These are different events but complementary to those we have just experienced. Cycling needs great one-day classics and also great stage races including the Grand Tours.

Will Tadej Pogacar win a third Tour de France?

I’m not so sure about that. If he continues in this trajectory, Remco Evenepoel can put Tadej Pogacar in difficulty. But will he make the Tour? There are now question marks. Will Julian Alaphilippe be able to start the Tour de France? We do not yet have the answer even if we wish. This could change his team’s goals.

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