The Tour’s white jer­sey win­ner on Strade Bianche and win­ning the French na­tional TT ti­tle

Procycling - - PROLOGUE -

What’s your favourite race?

I love Strade Bianche. At any point in that race, some­thing can hap­pen. You get to a gravel sec­tion and you have to ex­pect the un­ex­pected. There’ll be a climb, the bunch can split, or at­tacks can go and it’s re­ally hard to pre­dict. It’s a race which passes re­ally quickly – there are no long sec­tions where noth­ing hap­pens.

What is your favourite climb?

The Col de Tourniol. It’s a climb near where I live. I like it be­cause it’s quite a nar­row climb and you don’t get many cars on it. There are lots of bends and changes in gra­di­ent, and I al­ways find it quite fun, which makes it go quicker. The land­scape is nice – you get to the top and you can see the Drôme and the Rhône Val­ley, and fur­ther away, the Ardèche. On the other side you can see the Ver­cors plateau. It is good for train­ing be­cause it’s 11km at around eight per cent.

Who is the best do­mes­tique in the pelo­ton?

Ob­jec­tively, you have to say Egan Ber­nal, who was so strong at the Tour, and at Mo­vis­tar they have re­ally strong climbers. On Ag2r, we have lots of strong guys but one im­por­tant rider in par­tic­u­lar is Axel Domont who is al­ways good. It is a dif­fer­ent job look­ing after dif­fer­ent lead­ers but he’s adapt­able enough to do that, whether it’s Ro­main [Bardet] or Poz­zo­vivo [now at Bahrain-Merida] or some­body else.

Who is your fun­ni­est team-mate?

Quentin Jau­régui. It’s partly be­cause we’ve known each other so long, but we have the same jokes and same sense of hu­mour.

What’s the last app you down­loaded?

I just got a new phone, so I’ve ac­tu­ally down­loaded a whole load of apps. The ab­so­lute last one was Ama­zon As­sis­tant. You find a pho­to­graph of

"You get to the top of the Col de Tourniol and you can see the Drôme and the Rhône Val­ley, and fur­ther away, the Ardèche”

a piece of cloth­ing, and it will find it so you can buy that item. It can find prac­ti­cally any­thing.

What’s the best prize you’ve won at a race?

Sadly, it wasn’t me who won it, but there’s a sec­ond­cat­e­gory race in France where you win your weight in wine. It’s too late for me to win that one, un­for­tu­nately.

What’s your hard­est day on the bike?

Last year on the Tour de France there was the Alpine stage over the Col de la Croix de Fer, Col du Télé­graphe and Col du Gal­i­bier. I’d had an okay Tour up to that point, but that day was ter­ri­ble. I just wasn’t good; re­ally, re­ally not good. I think the tired­ness was catch­ing up with me be­cause it was the fi­nal week­end of the Tour, and I was start­ing to get ill as well.

What’s your se­cret tal­ent?

I can lick my own el­bow. Try it: it is im­pos­si­ble for most peo­ple.

What’s the story be­hind one of your scars and how you got it?

I’ve got a bad one on my knee. I got it when I was a kid and I fell out of a tree.

What re­sult in your ca­reer are you most proud of up to now?

Be­com­ing the French na­tional time trial cham­pion. You win that ti­tle all on your own, with a sin­gle in­di­vid­ual ef­fort, and what’s more it’s a na­tional ti­tle, so you are re­minded of it ev­ery time you wear the jer­sey for the next year. It’s re­ally spe­cial.

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