The press at the Tour de France | Hugo Houle relaxing before the arrival on the Champs Elysees

(Orléans, France) It’s not a stage win in the Tour de France that will change Hugo Houle.

Posted yesterday at 8:15 pm

Simon Drouin

Simon Drouin
the press

Less than 24 hours before arriving at the Champs Elysées, the Israel-Premier Tech cyclist agreed to give an interview to the press when he went to sleep on Saturday night.

He had returned earlier than expected from the Rocamadour time trial. So I missed him when he arrived at a hotel in Orleans, two hours south of Paris.

I would have understood that he wanted to close his eyes in silence around 10:30 p.m. Instead, he said: “Come on, I have 10 minutes. »

In the end, he spoke of about twenty of them, lying on their bed in their underpants, the cross in memory of their brother hanging around their necks.

He heard the news, headed by the attack in Odessa. Apart from the shoes and headphones on the desk, there was nothing. On top of his impeccably stowed suitcase, he had placed the number 196 he had worn on his watch on the 20th.e stage, where he slowed down, seeing that he was not heading for an interesting result (88e). The number will go to whoever asks for a souvenir.

Except for one incident during the 21ste Sunday’s stage, Houle will therefore conclude his fourth Tour at 24e ranked in the general classification, just over 1h 40m behind Denmark’s Jonas Vingegaard, who confirmed his yellow jersey by finishing second in Saturday’s time trial.

Quebec is surrounded by renowned runners such as Bauke Mollema, Wout van Aert, Brandon McNulty, Rigoberto Urán. Like him, they haven’t necessarily played general every day, targeting the stages or devoting themselves to helping their leaders.

Houle is particularly proud of his achievements in specific stages. His historic victory in Foix, of course, but also the other three outings in which he went very far, including a third place in Saint-Étienne.

“I was with tough guys. Having the ability to make them is one thing, but you have to smell the good shots and be able to make the difference at the end of those runs. An occasion like Tuesday may never come again.”


Hugo Houle is warming up for his time trial in Rocamadour.

His performance over the three weeks is all the more satisfying because Houle had to wait before getting the call from Israel-Premier Tech.

“Two weeks before the start, I didn’t know if I would participate. My team couldn’t confirm my location. It’s the best answer I could give them. »

Houle calmly takes the measure of his success Tuesday. In the peloton, several runners gave him messages of sympathy.

“They didn’t necessarily know my story. They were glad he had made it. I think it affected a lot of people in France as well. In the following stages, many people chanted my name. Will it change anything for me? I have no idea. For now, I’m back to my normal daily life. I’m doing my shopping. »

The reader of The Press+ he is also aware of the “sympathy wave” that has swept Quebec. “From what I saw, it made a lot of headlines. It still had its impact. Tuesday was a big wave of emotions, but starting Wednesday, it starts again. »

Do you think your life will change? “Not necessarily. After the Tour de France, I’m going to Monaco. No one will notice me walking down the street. It might have been different if I had flown to Montreal. In fact, I have no idea if anything has changed thing or not. I’ll tell you in a year! So far, so good.”

On Sunday in Paris, Houle will be reunited with his partner Stéphanie Matteau and his friend Jean Bélanger, CEO of Premier Tech, a long-time sponsor. His parents, whom he hasn’t seen since the September 2021 Canadian Championships in Beauce, won’t be there.

“With everyone, all the euphoria of the Camps, they greet you for five minutes. It’s a long journey for that. I prefer to see them in October when I will be calmer. They will probably come to visit me in Europe. »

After a team dinner in the evening, he will return to Monaco the following day. “I will keep calm and try to do well in the Arctic Race in Norway (I was 5e in 2019). Usually two weeks after a big tour I have good strength. I would like to take advantage of it. »

Houle will then rest a bit before the Grand Prix Cyclistes de Québec and Montreal (September 9 and 11), where he can really measure his new status.

But first, he still has to travel 116 km to Paris, where he will complete the event that will change his life… or not!

Without worlds

Unlike his teammate Guillaume Boivin, Hugo Houle has no intention of participating in the World Cup in Wollongong, Australia, the week of September 19.

“The team needs points, and I am on the list of drivers who must contribute. So I will concentrate on my racing program. The trip to Australia would have too much impact and is tight with the Quebec races. Then, as usual, Cycling Canada has no money and they don’t want to pay anything. »


Hugo Houle during his time trial in Rocamadour


The 109e The Tour de France will be the fastest in history, we could read The team Saturday. The average of just over 42 km/h will beat the previous mark set in 2005 when…Lance Armstrong completed the race at 41.65 km/h. Houle explains this blistering speed in part by the improvement of the material, particularly the tires. “Sorry, it’s going much faster than before. In the beginning, we had 53-tooth chainrings. Two years ago we put 54. Next year I wonder if we won’t race with a 55. » The technical end of the stages and the incessant struggle before the formation of the breakaways also contributed to these speeds. “Except in Denmark, where it was relatively easy because there was no wind, there wasn’t a day where we sat down and drove 200km looking at the cornfields…”

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