between screaming matches, controversies and escapes, the prize for combativeness also animates the race

Sometimes the members of the combat award jury agree quickly enough to nominate the winner of the day. Take Wout van Aert on the 6the stage of this Tour de France 2022. The Belgian spent Thursday walking on the ground on the road to Longwy (Meurthe-et-Moselle). ” I thought about enjoying my last day of yellow and giving something to the public “justified what ended 103e of the stage, seven minutes after the winner, the Slovenian Tadej Pogacar.

Read also: Tour de France 2022: Bob Jungels wins solo, Pogacar consolidates his yellow jersey

Thank you for the grace, Wout, but on a tactical level we have come to know a more enlightened strategy. King of the escape of the 90s, Jacky Durand, now a Eurosport consultant, advanced the desire of the Jumbo-Visma runner. “Take the prize for combativeness” as the only Cartesian reasoning. Laughter (wanted) in the room. In fact, Wout van Aert frequents the podiums of the Tour enough as a green jersey to also aim for what looks like a consolation prize.

On the other hand, for runners less accustomed to ceremonial honors, the “combative” is like the pompom one tries to win after a long unsuccessful escape. On the Tour, any advertising is good to take away, as well as the 2,000 euro prize. So sometimes the atmosphere can turn into the courtyard between suitors, one accusing the other of having stolen his marble bag.

“Existence on the Tour is never easy”

In Toulouse, in 2019, Stéphane Rossetto had addressed, during his post-race interview, Aimé De Gendt, one of his fellow fugitives on 11e stage. “We said okay, we drove from a mile like that, he drove like before and he shoots us at the end to go do the red ridge, the Frenchman had warmed up. To me, it breaks my c … guys like that. » Belgian defendant’s answer: “In the end I think I’m the best, if you’re not happy this is your problem. »

Anthony Perez was the third man to flee that day. Three years later, the Cofidis runner tried his luck again during the 4the step in company Magnus Cort Nielsen, Danish “serial fugitive”. On leaving Dunkirk, Anthony Perez did not hide his desire to place himself in the getaway of the day. With the desire to “fight” in mind, possibly? “No, I’m not thinking about it at all, the goal is to win a stage for the team this year”cuts the Haut-Garonnais very quickly.

Arriving in Calais, however, he had accepted the award with a wide smile on the podium and his red bib had made his northern team happy that day. “Being on the Tour is never easyadvances Laurent Jalabert, historical member of the combat jury. When you don’t have the lethal weapon as a sprinter, climber or round, it’s a prize that gives you a chance to shine. »

No shirt, but the podium in Paris

The former rider, now a consultant for France Télévisions and RTL, knows both its value and instructions for use, having been the super fighter of the Tour in 2000 and 2001, the most enterprising rider during the three weeks of the race.

By then, the Mazamétain had lost the speed of his youth and had put aside the dreams of a yellow shirt. “I was more in the end, I knew I didn’t have legs to win on the mountain, but going on the getaways allowed me to add points for the best climber classification and the fighting spirit came with that.”, details.

Chosen super combative in 2021, Franck Bonnamour tells the same story. After a week of intervention of his first Grande Boucle, the Breton wore the green shirt of B&B Hotels-KTM almost every day after. “I didn’t take getaways to advertise myself as we sometimes see, says the 27-year-old cyclist. They all went all the way or had a good chance of going. Also, I finish four times between the top ten and 22e in general. »

In Paris, Franck Bonnamour is the only French rider to have taken the podium. It still trembles. “I wasn’t wearing a shirt, but that moment was exceptional for me and also for the team.”trust what had preceded … Wout van Aert thanks to the public vote on Twitter. “Wout had already won his stage, so the public must have thought ‘we will reward a Frenchman who did not win’. »

The French advantages?

Good prince, the champion of Belgium had accepted his defeat. In 2017, his compatriot Thomas De Gendt had no doubt congratulated the winner, Warren Barguil, but he had nonetheless questioned the impartiality of voters, all French. “It would take an international jury to decide the winner of this award. I’m disappointed, very disappointed “attacked Lotto-Soudal’s adventurer.

Laurent Jalabert accepts the criticism: “It’s like in figure skating, there is necessarily subjectivity in our choices”says who no longer counts text messages received before or after their vote. “Last year, Julien Bernard’s mother called me to call me because I hadn’t been designated combatant of the day. The worst part is that I voted for him. “ laughs Toshiba’s former colleague of … Jean-François Bernard, Julien’s father.

Do Magnus Cort Nielsen’s parents have the number Haha? For now, his son has impressed with a first last week giving way to the peloton. But, as Tadej Pogacar often repeats, “The Tour is still very long”. And that also happens with combative aspirants.

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