How Benjamin Thomas didn't go far from igniting France

How Benjamin Thomas didn’t go far from igniting France

We saw them come in and point their noses in the first places of the peloton towards the end of the Cammazes coast, less than 50km from the finish in Carcassonne, this Sunday, during the 15th stage of the Tour de France. We suspected Benjamin Thomas and Alexis Jugerd were about to attack, as the flight imposed a tempo on the climbs to wipe out a large portion of the runners. So there was no surprise when the two Frenchmen took on their heels.

Par contre, on n’imaginait pas que les deux loubards puissent se battre pour la victoire d’étape, alors qu’au moins cinq équipes (Trek, DSM, Alpecin, Ineos, Total-Direct Energie), s’étaientler mises à à behind them. Thirty seconds max, we didn’t give much of their chances in advance. Even Benjamin Thomas admitted that he only believed it very late: “I began to think that 5 kilometers from the end, when I saw that we were getting better, it became urban.”

Alexis Jugerd cracks, Benjamin Thomas alone

In fact, after seeing the gap melt for about ten seconds, the two men rode even harder, as they saw the headwind hitting them. During the peloton stop, Patrouille de France saw their lead as they reached the outskirts of Carcassonne: about thirty seconds 10km from the finish and hoping to see France finally win a stage in the Tour de France. .

The turn comes just under 5 kilometers from the line. Exhausted, Alexis Jugerd cracks, Benjamin Thomas must go alone. “I’m disappointed that I couldn’t follow it, because I think it was playable for two, and I’m not happy with myself,” admitted, with an annoyed expression, the hostility of the bed and breakfasts. Same feeling about his runaway partner: “I found myself alone, it was more difficult. Maybe if we were there together…”

‘It’s the utmost effort’

The Tarn-born double world champion then put himself in his favorite position as a track racer. Almost lying on his rig, his elbows folded so that the wind resistance is as little as possible, Benjamin Thomas advances and resists. and proves its existence. Eight seconds ahead at 3.7 km from the finish, 13 at 3 km, thanks to a perfectly negotiated curve.

The Cofidis runner commented on the France 2 microphone. “It’s maximum effort, I didn’t think of anything, it was just pushing and pulling. I didn’t count anything anymore, I sent everything I had. And then, despite these miraculous efforts, in the stifling heat , the bullets end up melting: 10, 6, 5, then the inevitable happens. The Cofidis rider was caught 400 meters from the line by a peloton.

‘We have nothing to be ashamed of’

Overwhelmed by runners, Benjamin Thomas finished an anecdotal 64th, 24 seconds behind Jasper Philipsen, the winner of the day. Furthermore, the Belgian from Alpecin admitted after the race that he was not afraid not to join Benjamin Thomas. “It’s always tough when there’s someone like that up front. I knew not to panic while it was possible. [de le rattraper]Focused on the sprint. »

Benjamin Thomas’ dreams ended. We haven’t experienced too much disappointment in failure. “I did my best in the final, continued the former French Test Champion, who is used to that kind of solitary effort. We did a great number with Alexis. We tried, we have nothing to reproach ourselves for. It is played on the edge of the razor, with a few seconds Others… I am completely dead, and I have stars in my eyes.” Rest day, Monday, he will do good.

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