The nineteenth stage of the Tour de France will start this Friday from Castelnau-Magnoac, stronghold of Antoine Dupont, to reach Cahors, land of Fabien Galthié. Simple coincidence or desire of the organization? Answer with Christian Prudhomme, director of the Tour de France.
Cycling fans may have been surprised in mid-October when Christian Prudhomme and all the Amaury Sport Organization teams unveiled the route for the 109th Tour de France. If you were already familiar with the great departure from Denmark, it may seem more surprising to see the small town of Castelnau-Magnoac in the middle of the stopover towns. And yet… Lovers of the oval ball, on the other hand, know this town of about 800 souls well located in the north of the High Pyrenees, on the banks of the Gers. Because yes, Antoine Dupont, scrum half of the XV of France and Stade Tolousain, grew up there…
Today, the best player in the world is the pride of the Magnoacais. ” When you have pure talent with wonderful humility like Antoine Dupont, you are proud, smiled Christian Prudhomme. But more generally, I also think of Anthony Jelonch and his parents, who are also farmers. And to all those guys, super brave, full of selflessness. The tribute is not just to the wonderful players in France’s XV today. It is also for everyone around them, their parents, their family, their friends. Everyone will be proud in and around the village, in the department but also in the Gers where Antoine and his friends have been very tough, I’m sure. But they ignore it. When Antoine Dupont writes to me “thanks”, it touches me deeply. I am like hundreds of thousands of people who say to him and to the XV of France, “thanks” ! This is what I heard from Bernard Hinault, Bernard Thévénet or Eddy Merckx, for example. In fact, champions don’t realize how much good they can do. »
“Go for a drink at Dupont Cafe”
Therefore, it is quite natural that the director of the Tour de France decided to name Castelnau-Magnoac as a stage city of the great loop. ” The choice of Castelnau-Magnoac is anything but a coincidence. It is linked to Antoine Dupont, of course. We were looking for a stopover to return to Paris after our visit to the Pyrenees. The department of the Hautes-Pyrénées is the only department in France where we systematically stop to mock the mythical passes such as the Tourmalet, the Aspin or the Peyresourde. And then, it happens that at the end of the High Pyrenees there is the small town of Castelnau-Magnoac. There was a kind of obviousness when we discussed it with Michel Pélieu, the president of the Departmental Council of 65. There was a great desire to go and have a drink at the Dupont cafe…”
And this, regardless of the size of the municipality. On the contrary ” The Tour de France is exactly that! The Tour de France involves very large French and foreign cities, such as Paris, the city of the final finish, or Copenhagen, the city of the grand start. But they are also medium-sized cities and small towns. If there is Copenhagen and Paris, there must be Castelnau-Magnoac and Lacapelle-Marival, in the Lot. (start of the time trial in Rocamadour that will take place this Saturday, the day before the final finish, editor’s note). For me, Castelnau-Magnoac and Lacapelle-Marival are as important as Copenhagen and Paris. And it’s not just a formula. The Tour de France is an event that brings people together. »
Cahors, the other symbol
Just over a year from the Rugby World Cup that will take place in our lands, the symbol is strong to see how one of the biggest events in the sports world, broadcast around the world in no less than 190 countries, happen for the lands of those who will carry all the hopes of French rugby in 2023. Because Antoine Dupont will not be the only name associated with this stage. And for good reason, the arrival will be in Cahors, not far from Fabien Galthié, coach of the XV of France. ” We wanted to associate a stopover in the Lot with the year we left Denmark, explains Christian Prudhomme, for the French to remember or learn that the father of the Crown Prince of Denmark (Frederick of Denmark), Henri de Laborde de Monpezat, who became Henrik of Denmark, was French and that the Château de Cayx, owned by Margrethe II Queen of Denmark, is located in the department of Lot. Cahors was a candidate. And Cahors is the city of Fabien Galthié…”
And if that wasn’t enough, the stage will also pass through Auch, birthplace of Jacques Fouroux, another illustrious scrum half and captain of the XV of France. ” It’s not entirely a coincidence either.smiles the ex-journalist. And then, Pierre Berbizier is also not far away. So we’re not just on the rugby stage, we’re fully on the scrum-half stage, number 9 and captains of France’s XV, grand slam winners. The stage is really designed as a link to rugby. »
The double reading of the stages of the Tour de France
As often, Christian Prudhomme, Thierry Gouvenou (Technical Director of the Tour de France) and all the ASO teams try to find stages with double reading, when possible. ” It was historic. I think in particular of the one we did in 2015 from Arràs to Amiens, where we were on the front line of the First World War. The sporting question was whether Arnaud Démare, the Picard, was going to win at home. Instead, for the Australians and New Zealanders, it was their stage as we passed a large number of WW1 cemeteries. It was therefore the scene of the memory of the Australians and New Zealanders, these 20-year-old men who, a hundred years ago, had traveled 20,000 kilometers to come and fight in France. Anglo-Saxons are often less conservative than us, but they often have a much better memory. »
Some Latinos also have a great memory, like Antoine Dupont, a true rugby fan and sports in general. One can imagine the pride of the France XV scrum-half to watch one of the biggest sporting events from their stronghold. A town, already effervescent for several weeks, where the posters that associate local love and the great cycle of the bicycle flourish, and which waits impatiently for this Friday, July 22, 2022. A day that will be etched in the memory of this village in the High Pyrenees.