Jimmy Engoulvent philosophical about Tour de France Lanterne Rouge
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Monday, July 23, 2012

Jimmy Engoulvent philosophical about Tour de France Lanterne Rouge

by Kyle Moore at 8:04 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Tour de France
Saur-Sojasun riders leaving Paris with modest regrets

Jimmy EngoulventIn Paris on Sunday, Jimmy Engoulvent (Saur-Sojasun) became the first Frenchman to earn the Lanterne Rouge in the Tour de France since Jimmy Casper in 2004. Casper took last place in the Tour on two occasions, also dealing with the “prize” in 2001. It is the first Lanterne Rouge for Engoulvent, who succeeds Fabio Sabatini (Liquigas-Cannondale), the final finisher in 2011.

After a close race with Jan Ghyselinck (Cofidis), who was just 32 seconds faster than the Frenchman in Paris, Engoulvent chalked his finish up to simply not coming across a stage that suited him.

“We must admit that the results are average,” Engoulvent remarked about his team’s effort in the Tour. “It took me a while to find my real level. I missed getting the result I am still waiting on in the Tour. At the team level, it was unfortunate - Jérôme [Coppel] fell ill and this just destroyed our strategy.

“The profile of the course did not offer a lot of stages for riders of my style, except perhaps in Pau. And that day, I had a puncture at the wrong time and I did more than forty kilometres behind the cars. When you look at the stage winners, it is clear that there was not much available for the ‘baroudeurs.’”

Aside from Coppel’s illness-affected 21st place overall, results were few and far between for Saur-Sojasun in the Tour. After recovering from his own illness early in the race, Brice Feillu was active in the Pyrenees, grabbing fifth on stage 16 in Bagnères-de-Luchon. Sprinter Julien Simon was sixth on stage 13, and Engoulvent was tenth on the Champs Élysées, rounding out the meager stage highlights for the French wildcard.

Feelings were mixed amongst the team upon finishing with eight riders in Paris – missing only Anthony Delaplace – while most expressed a few regrets.

Fabrice Jeandesboz: “I am scorched! But I have a feeling of accomplishment. I gave it everything. Personally, I felt a little frustration on the stages to Porrentruy and Bellegarde [stages 8 and 10], when I was in the breakaway. Those two days, coincidentally, I had no good legs. Collectively, we have done everything for Jérôme, but he got sick and our work wasn’t able to pay off.”

Cyril Lemoine: “My Tour was okay. I think I did the job expected of me. I do have the one regret of not taking part in any breakaways. There is always room for improvement and it’s always a bit easy to say that afterward. I spent three weeks with Jimmy Engoulvent as my roommate. It was tough, but eventually we had a good laugh! I got tired mentally, but physically I'm not so bad. And I'm very motivated for the rest of the season.”

Jean-Marc Marino: “I was a little disappointed with my own performance. Jimmy Engoulvent reassured me and told me, ‘When you work all day, it’s okay to be not well from time to time.’ At Saur-Sojasun, we gave the best of ourselves. And Jérôme did as well. In the state he was in when he finished, he realized [finishing] was a greater feat than had he finished tenth. With his poor health, many other ‘great’ leaders would have simply abandoned.”

Julien Simon: “I am a bit disappointed with my Tour. I found that the event and the race are very different from others. I'm still happy to finish my first big Grand Tour. I will remember my 6th place in Le Cap d'Agde for one reason: that day I really was not very good, but I knew I had proven that I could hang on to get a decent result.”


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