July 31, 2021

“More boss, more respect” in the peloton

It is one of the sea snakes of professional cycling. And the first week of the Tour de France reminded him: “Cycling has never been so exciting to follow”, insists Vincent Lavenu, AG2R-Citroën training director. But wasn’t life in the peloton “better before”? An emblematic event of this questioning: the start of the fourth stage, Tuesday, June 29, between Redon and Fougères (Ille-et-Vilaine), during which the riders set foot on the ground to denounce their racing conditions after the series of massive falls.

Read also: The peloton rumbles after the series of falls

Because behind the image of a group of united runners, it actually took the intervention of a man, the German sprinter André Greipel (Israel Start-Up Nation), who moved up the peloton shortly after the actual start to ask his comrades to take it easy. The 38-year-old “Rostock gorilla” started his professional career in 2005 when the Slovenian prodigy Tadej Pogacar (UAE Emirates) was not yet 7 years old.

On his team’s Twitter account, the latter expressed himself, showing himself bitter: “We had agreed before the start to mark the occasion. From time to time you have to make decisions to try to improve things. Then the guys didn’t stop as we had decided. “

“Until then, André Greipel was not known to be a natural leader. Age, new cycling practices have surely prompted him to intervene ”, a German journalist is surprised. As if the 38 years of Greipel had convinced him that it was his duty to speak, he who for a long time remained in the confinement of his own performance, passing from talkative euphoria to periods of silence sometimes punctuated by tantrums with himself.

An abandoned role

For the sports director of the Belgian Intermarché-Wanty Gobert team, Hilaire Van der Schueren, “The question of respect, including its internal rules within the peloton, rests on the presence of a leader within it. A guy who would say “stop there” or “you, you stop your bullshit right now!” But there is no longer a boss like a Jan Raas [rouleur néerlandais des années 1970 et début 1980, à la réputation de roublard] or a Bernard Hinault. ”

However, for the dean of sports directors – 73 years – those who could today play this role do not endorse it. Or do not want to assume it: “Hence the behavior in the race that is sometimes dangerous, even borderline. The runners go ahead, under the pressure of the stakes, to achieve a result at all costs. “

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