A hello from afar to relatives who have come to the Champs-Elysées, a last little word to fellow travelers, and head to Roissy at full speed to embark on a flight to Tokyo. Because yes, if you need a transition between the sporting events of the summer, about fifty riders of the Tour de France, completed Sunday in Paris, tackle from Saturday (from 4 am in France) to the 234 kilometers of the Olympic road race. Or less than a week to swallow seven hours of jet lag, more than twelve hours on the plane and acclimatization to hot humidity or the Japanese humid heat. We get lost, but you get the idea.
Among the faces known to have shown themselves at the foot of Mount Fuji this week: the Slovenian steamroller Tadej Pogacar, the third in the general classification Richard Carapaz, the Belgian all-terrain Wout Van Aert or the 2018 winner of the Grande Boucle , the Briton Geraint Thomas.
Not really the type to swallow such a trip to come as tourists.
As for the Blues, the list of absent is unfortunately more impressive than that of those present, with the world champion Julian Alaphilippe, Thibaut Pinot or Romain Bardet, who remained in Europe for personal, physical or sporting reasons.
The French coach will bet on Guillaume Martin and David Gaudu, eighth and eleventh in the Tour.
"On paper, Carapaz or Pogacar are superior to us"
“On paper, runners like Carapaz or Pogacar are superior to us,” admits the leader of Cofidis. “I do not want to look behind, warns Thomas Voeckler, from Yamanakako, where the French have set up their base camp. I'm not talking about a medal or a ranking, I just want no one to have any regrets at the end of the race. "
We do not promise anything on this front, but a glance at the course already guarantees them very heavy legs at the end of this day. The runners will enjoy the superb landscapes of this region, a weekend resort for Tokyoites, but suffer along the 4,800 meters of vertical drop that awaits them. According to the peloton, the race is likely to be played out in the penultimate difficulty 30 kilometers from the finish: the Mikuni pass and its 10 km, its 10.6% average and its passages at 20% . Rude, especially in the heat.
"We are coming out of a Tour de France where there was not the same heat as in previous years, the conditions will not be easy", anticipates Benoît Cosnefroy, where a David Gaudu suffered the weight of the degrees on the slopes of Ventoux on July 7. "We tried to acclimatize, I hope everything will go well", slips the climber of Groupama-FDJ. Of the five Blues, only Rémi Cavagna, not aligned on the Grande Boucle, had more time to get used to the region when he arrived in Japan in mid-July, but his profile as a rider is not cut out for this course.
More suited to these percentages, Primoz Roglic and Vincenzo Nibali, respectively forced to retire in the first week and voluntarily on the second day of rest, hope to benefit from their early departure. du Tour "It was the perfect way for me to reach the best form for Tokyo," said the Italian. It will be up to the slopes of Fuji to decide.