“I tell myself I’ve almost won and it’s possible,” says Bryan Coquard, looking for a stage victory.

Bryan Coquard does not hide it. If the prospect of winning a stage of the Tour de France doesn’t haunt his nights, the 30-year-old sprinter’s career would have an unfinished taste if it ended without one colliding. Especially because the “Rooster” has recovered from his threads since his arrival in Cofidis this year.

In early February, he in turn raised his arms during the second stages of the Etoile de Bessèges and after the Tour de Provence and put an end to a shortage of 551 days. On June 14, Peter Sagan deprived him of a third joy during the third stage of the Tour de Suisse.

The former B & B Hotels pilot intends to win the Grande Boucle from this 2022 edition, which starts on Friday from Copenhagen, because we finally stop talking to him about this famous arrival in Limoges in 2016, where Marcel Kittel had grilled. he by “28 millimeters.”

How would you describe your first months at Cofidis?

Rather very good. I have found the way back to victory. He was not far from winning in Paris-Nice and then in the Tour de Suisse. I’m pretty satisfied.

Can we talk about rebirth after more difficult times?

“Renaissance”, I do not know if this is the right word. But I am very happy, very efficient although since the resumption, before the Tour de Suisse, it was a bit complicated. But it was an option, with my coach, to get fresh and in good shape to this race and then go to the French Championship and the Tour de France. The seasons are long.

You are going to compete in your sixth Tour de France. Is winning a stage finally something that haunts you?

I won’t go that far. But really, it’s something that has made me dream since I was little. I have already finished second twice (in 2015 when I arrived at the Champs Elysees, behind André Greipel; in 2016 during the 4th stage Saumur-Limoges, behind Marcel Kittel). Including once by 28mm (in 2016) … I was very, very close to victory. I tell myself that I have almost won and that it is possible, that I am able to do it. With a condition like the one I currently have, it’s possible.

The photo finish of the arrival of the stage Saumur - Limoges of the Tour de France 2016, which saw Marcel Kittel (below) just ahead of Bryan Coquard.
The photo finish of the arrival of the stage Saumur – Limoges of the Tour de France 2016, which saw Marcel Kittel (below) just ahead of Bryan Coquard. – ASO / AFP

Then we must not forget that it is the biggest race in the world, the hardest in any case, where the level is the most homogeneous and the highest of the year. I deal with very strong competitors. I don’t put any special pressure on myself, even if it’s a dream I’d like to make come true before I finish my career. I hope this year is a good year.

Do you often think about this famous Limoges stage in 2016?

He appears often, and often with journalists (smiles). It was very, very close. Would it have changed my career? I don’t think so, I really don’t know. But, once again, it shows me that I have already been close to victory and that it is possible.

What do you think of the course of this 2022 edition? Have you set milestones?

I watched the first few days, we saw the cobblestone stage to the north (Lille-Arenberg, July 6). Instead, I went over the steps, without looking at any in particular. There are quite complicated arrivals, with quite complicated days that go well for me.

Cofidis has been chasing a stage victory on the Tour since 2008. Does Cédric Vasseur tell you often?

No, but of course I would like to bring a little history to Cofidis. It would make me very happy.

In the absence of Arnaud Démare, all eyes will be on you among the French sprinters.

Think so. Arnaud made a different choice with his team (Groupama-FDJ) which was very successful for him (three victories in the last Giro). He is a very great sprinter. I will try to do my best on this Tour.

Why not be inspired by what he did at the Giro?

A victory would already be exceptional (laughs).

At B&B Hotels, a lot of things depended on you. When you get to Cofidis, do you feel like you have less weight on your shoulders?

Yes, sure. It did me good. I don’t deny what happened during those four years at B&B Hotels. I didn’t feel compelled to be the only leader. But here it is different. We have riders for the overall standings and a lot of riders who do well and win. The team is not observed or valued just by my results.

With the B&B Hôtel shirt on the Col de la Loze, during the 17th stage of the Tour de France 2020.
With the B&B Hôtels t-shirt at the Col de la Loze, during the 17th stage of the Tour de France 2020. – jeep.vidon / Sipa

When you arrived at Cofidis, coach Cédric Vasseur said: “Our desire is to support him so that he can regain his best level of 2016. [13 victoires]. What separates you from that?

I don’t think I’m very far away. It’s always hard to say that as an athlete. But I went back to a very, very good level, maybe even better.

How do you explain these complicated years?

It is difficult to explain clearly. These are different sports options. I’m not necessarily convinced I didn’t have that level anymore. Of course, I had a lot of falls. What makes me feel better this year is competing regularly in World Tour races, the highest level. It’s full of little things that make it work well this year.

More generally, what are Cofidis ’goals on the Tour?

We haven’t talked about it much yet (the interview was done on June 21st). We will have two good letters with Ion Izagirre and Guillaume Martin. We know that the start of the Tour will be super complicated, in any case because for the leaders who risk wasting a lot of time with the trip to Denmark which, I think, will be windy, with edge risks. The cobblestone stage is very hard.

I don’t know who our designated leader will be. Will the two designated runners come to play the stages or will one of the two, or both, clearly point to the overall? But clearly we will have good cards.

With the silver medal at the omnium at the London Olympics, August 5, 2012.
With the silver medal at the omnium at the London Olympics, August 5, 2012. – Carl de Souza / AFP

In track cycling, you won Olympic silver at the London Omnium in 2012, before being crowned American World Champion in 2015. Have the 2024 Paris Olympics hit you in the head ??

That’s a good question. I myself have not yet answered it. Of course, I love the track. And the Paris Games would be something extraordinary to experience. But qualifying for the Olympics has already begun and at the moment I’m not too worried about that, with my very complete route schedule.

I’m living a new adventure on a new team, so I didn’t see myself having that in mind. This year, the important thing was to win on the road, to make a good performance from the start of the season. Maybe once the Tour is over, we’ll see if it’s possible to get back on track, this winter or next season, so why not win my spot at the Games … But is it still very vague in my head?

What will be your schedule for the second half of the season?

The Grand Prix de Plouay (scheduled for August 28) is a race I like. She can match my features. Otherwise, I haven’t looked at it too much. What is certain is that I will not do the Vuelta and I will favor one-day races or small stage races. We’ll have to see how I feel after the Tour.

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