LEMOINE THE LOCAL
The happiest rider at the finish of Paris-Tours may well be Cyril Lemoine. The Cofidis rider was born and grew up in Tours, and still lives in the city, so his journey home will be shorter than anybody else’s after the race is over. While other riders are getting shuttled to airports in team cars, team buses and private cars, whatever the logistics spreadsheet dictates, Lemoine could probably walk back to his house, if he wanted. “I’ll be home in 10 minutes, which makes a change from most races,” the 34-year-old says.
Lemoine can remember coming to see the race when he was a child. “The finish wasn’t in the same place,” he says. “You had the entire Avenue de Grammont then, so it was a really big deal. It’s not quite the same race.”
Lemoine’s Cofidis hadn’t enjoyed a successful day. They’d started the race with the intention of piloting Nacer Bouhanni to a sprint at the finish, but the team weren’t up to the task on the day, and Bouhanni missed the boat, albeit along with most of the other sprinters present here. In the end, Bouhanni didn’t even bother to sprint – trying to be first home in the third group on the road, which would sprint for 18th place, was below him and he finished back in 22nd.
“It wasn’t the result we wanted,” says Lemoine. “When the rain came we were sliding around a bit, and having to close gaps made a difference in the final. I also admit that I wasn’t in the best shape – not at 100 per cent, and I was starting to lose form at the end of the season. That’s the way it goes. But now we have a chance to rest and look back over this season and forward to the next.”
Lemoine’s career trajectory has taken him from the Crédit Agricole team, for whom he rode between 2005 and 2008, through Skil-Shimano in 2009, Saur-Sojasun from 2010 to 2013 and Cofidis since 2014. (In a six-degrees-of-Kevin-Bacon style coincidence that is typical of the sport, he rode with Paris-Tours organiser Cédric Coutouly at Sojasun in 2010.)
He might not have had the legs to be a protagonist in the race, but Lemoine feels that there was an advantage to competing at home particularly as he should have the inside knowledge on what sort of racing can be expected.
“I know the roads from the final well. I told my team-mates where they needed to be well placed,” he explains. “It’s an advantage, but you still need to have the legs in the finale. I train on the Beau Soleil and Épan from time to time, but generally I head to the north to train, or towards Sarthe.”
The drizzle that dampened the race on the run-in to Tours has arrived in the city, and as the clouds roll in there is an end-ofterm feel as the riders say goodbye to each other for the last time in 2017. The drizzle gets heavier as the buses start to rev their engines and join the traffic jam to get away and start to make the journey home. They head out one by one, the riders are gone and all that is left is for the roadies to break up the finish line barriers and give the Avenue de Grammont back to the city. The European cycling season is over.