At the start and finish of the three stages of the Tour d’Eure-et-Loir, Claude Montac is there. Long white hair, white beard revealing a small smile on his lips and a Tour de France polo. On March 31, the historic organizer of the event, who had relaunched it in 2002, passed away at the age of 72. But his image remains, on the ceremonial podium. His portrait is installed at the foot of the desk of Daniel Mangeas (see photo above), who keeps quoting several times each day. Before the start of the three stages, but also at the final arrival in Chartres, a minute of applause accompanies his memory. Singer Anthony Fraysse will perform until the end of the weekend Wish, by Johnny Hallyday, a song loved by Claude Montac, before concluding the official ceremony. From the Montac family, present this weekend, to the entire organizing team, everyone has allowed the event to continue for the last few weeks. Among them, Daniel Chevereau, who took the lead with Jean-Claude Saulnier, and a whole association behind them. The first quote was discussed with DirectVelo the last weeks without Claude Montac, the necessary adaptation but also the future of the Tour d’Eure-et-Loir.
DirectVelo: How was this almost first edition, since the death of Claude Montac?
Daniel Chevereau: In fact, it’s almost the first. I have recently been in the association, this is my second return to Eure-et-Loir as a member of the association. I used to lend a hand for the accommodation, among other things, and there I had to pick up the necklace again. We recovered the files, everyone participated. The hardest part was the heavy workload. But frankly we were very close, we did a great job. It is the release, we are very happy with the three days because it has gone very well. We have all given a lot for this result, and to pay this precious tribute to our friend Claude.
Has cancellation been considered?
We haven’t had time to think about this bad decision. We left a period of time until Claude’s funeral, to respect the dignity of the ceremonies. But the day after the ceremony we met and we all decided to move on. So we didn’t even have time to discuss whether we did it or not. We immediately went ahead and organized ourselves accordingly. It was a lot of work but we are happy and relieved.
“EVERYONE HAS DONE ITSELF WITH THEIR SKILLS”
His departure necessarily changed the responsibilities of all …
I personally already managed the accommodation, and there I managed the whole sports aspect, the press … I received the help of an international curator, Claude Deschaseaux, who was an adorable character and with whom I worked with confidence. We called each other every day, sometimes at 11pm, we both did a great job. Then we had to take care of the collaborations, the signs, the volunteers … We distributed all the work of Claude. It must be said that before the Tour of Eure-et-Loir we had a first mission on May 15, with a sports cycle, the Blé d’Or, which brought together 400 people. We were able to understand this organization and continue in the same direction for the Tour d’Eure-et-Loir. We did not hesitate, we found in his wife, Muguette, all the information we needed to move forward. We had to approach all the sponsors, to make sure the job was done or not. It’s also exciting because we meet great people. I met lovely people I didn’t know. It’s enriching, it’s the positive I retain from this amazing experience.
So no one got out of the boat on the way!
We are a small association, maybe it’s a handicap. We are only a dozen. But the round table was done, there was not even a blank vote (smile). Everyone said “let’s go to the bank”. On the other hand, we have multiplied the meetings with respect to the years in which Claude was there. Every fortnight we had uneven meetings, it lasted long enough, we defined all the tasks. We had to go through it. Everyone did it with their skills. The people who are going to look for the 500 volunteers, put up barriers, do the signage … I didn’t go there, so hats off to those people! This is where we see teamwork. We were helped by other people, we had emails everywhere, I worked 12 hours a day. Sometimes I was told today I do this and that, and as soon as I opened the computer, there were emails to respond in all directions. It wasn’t complicated, it was just the workload. But I love the setting, so it was exciting.
“THE SAME TEST WILL CONTINUE”
What is the future of the event now?
That is the right question. This is not a first, but it was necessary to give a date for next year. So we gave the same as this year but changed by one day, so on 9-10-11 June 2023. Now we have to re-appoint, re-appoint president, it is not easy. We don’t have much time to look back, because we have to think quickly about the stop villages, work the circuits. So we meet next Wednesday to make a brief summary and to consider the future. The hardest part is finding a president and a good structure behind it. I would like to take a young team, with innovative ideas, to take it to another level. But he is a little greedy, even though he is on target.
Sportingly, will things change?
I can’t say that at the sporting level we will hold the same event. But in my opinion, we should not purr and follow the same principles. You have to move on. If we don’t move forward, it’s like in a platoon, we’re right behind. So we have to make sure that the event stays at the same level, and why not improve it, but that’s presumptuous to say. We have to wait a bit. What is planned at the moment is three days, in class 2. The department still trusts us, it is our main sponsor, so it is very important. We have to see how we can evolve, but for now it will remain the same event. But if we can improve it, we will not deprive ourselves.