After a year in a wheelchair, journalist Henri Sannier is still fighting the disease

Henri Sannier, a former journalist and commentator of the Tour de France, has the goal of cycling again, once recovered from his debilitating illness. (©The Journal of Abbeville)

There is no victory without a fight. A quote that fits perfectly Henri Sannier, victorious in the face of a virus that put him in a wheelchair for almost a year and a half. Struggle with a neuropathic pain since December 2020, the former journalist and commentator of Tour of France can walk again.

Between the two stages of the Big Loop, the biggest competition dear to his heart, the 74-year-old former sports journalist welcomes us to his home in Eaucourt-sur-Somme, a small village nearAbbeville (Somme) where he has been mayor since 1977.

With sincerity and emotion, Henri Sannier awakened this fight that won thanks to an incredible will and the invaluable support of his people.

Deprived of the use of his legs and hands

The daily life of the mayor of this small village of Abbevillois changed in December 2020: “I did falling off a bicycle and a few days later, I contracted this disease, this virus. As I have this time a vaccine against the flu, no one can tell me how I got this disease,” said Henri Sannier.

“And Two months later I could not walk…”, remembers the former host of “Tout le sport” in France 3, who finds himself deprived of the use of his legs and hands. A real waking dream for this great athlete and cycling enthusiast.

The specialists explained to me that my antibodies, which were supposed to defend me, were attacking my organism.

Henry SannierFormer Tour de France commentator
The former sports journalist is fond of cycling with Richard Virenque and Laurent Jalabert.
The former sports journalist is fond of cycling with Richard Virenque and Laurent Jalabert. (©Henri Sannier)

“My blood has been filtered 17 times”

“First I went to the University Hospital of Amiens where I was treated for a Guillain-Barré syndrome. But the doctors who thought it was not a syndrome directed me to the Pitié-Salpêtrière hospital in Paris. There, I received another treatment: plasmapheresis. For four hours they filtered my blood in Renew my plasma.”

The mayor of Eaucourt continued: “My blood was filtered this way 17 times. I keep coming back to pair every six weeks to perform plasmapheresis. I am lucky to have super teams around me. Henri Sannier began his rehabilitation in Berck (Pas-de-Calais) then continued in Abbeville.

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I lost about ten kilos but mainly the muscles in my legs. I no longer have quadriceps.

Henry Sannier

But through strength of will and thanks to the tireless support of his family, the one who presented JT on Antenne 2 was able to. win his fight in front of the disease.

A great career as a sports journalist

Henri Sannier left his mark in journalism on public channels.
From 1986 to 1987, he created and presented 19/20 in FR3.
He then presented the Journal de 20 Heures d’Antenne 2 in 1987 and 1988, then from September 1990 to September 1992. Henri Sannier presented the Journal de 13 Heures d’Antenne 2 from 1992 to 1994. He became the national editorial director of France 3 from February 1994 to September 1997.
From 1997 to 2017, Henri Sannier was the editor-in-chief and presenter of the program “Tout le sport” on France 3. A program for which he received the Sept d’or for the best sports program in 2001.
Passionate about cycling, which he practiced regularly until his accident in December 2020, Henri Sannier commented on the Tour de France in 2005 with Laurent Jalabert and in 2006 with Laurent Fignon.
The journalist retired in September 2017 and now dedicates himself to his city of Eaucourt-sur-Somme, where he has been mayor since 1977.

How Henri Sannier walked again

the click to walk back, Henri Sannier got it at midnight. A night that will remain etched in his memory: “Many nights I dreamed that I was walking from my gate to the house. Last June, at night, I got up to get medicine. And I went! Indeed, I think I realized I could walk. »

When I showed my grandson that I was walking again, he clapped… I was the happiest, as if I had won a stage in the Tour de France!

Henry SannierFormer Tour de France commentator

Like a rebirth, Henri Sannier moved from sitting to standing ever since about a month. Since this click, the former commentator of the Tour de France can finally walk again and drink (in moderation) with his family.

“I’ve always kept my head strong. I am always surrounded by my wife Sylviane, my children and my loved ones. And my grandchildren, Alice and Louis are a rejuvenation and a great source of motivation”, he emphasized.

Lots of mail from old viewers

What also touched the heart of Henri Sannier was the many marks of support and messages of encouragement received from all over France and on the other side of the world.

“I received many letters from former viewers who encouraged me or gave me tips to overcome the disease. The people in the village have also been very supportive, as well as my town council and my neighbours. I discovered a universe of unity and kindness. It inspired me. »

If he can walk slowly but surely for now, Henri Sannier is working regain full use of their hands.

It’s harder to come back for hands. But I have not lost hope and I know that I will get there. My goal is to get back on the bike and ride again.

Henry Sannier

Meanwhile, Henri Sannier uses an exercise bike for his rehabilitation, not far from his vegetable garden where he likes to grow beans, tomatoes or zucchini.

While waiting to get back in the saddle, Henri Sannier rides an exercise bike to regain muscle tone.
While waiting to get back in the saddle, Henri Sannier rides an exercise bike to regain muscle tone. (©The Journal of Abbeville)

His goal is in a little over a year with the return of an event or rather his event: La Ronde Picarde. A big cyclosportive between Abbeville and its village of Eaucourt, passing through the Baie de Somme.

I wanted to ride a bike to begin with. I know I can count on the presence of big names in cycling and friends like Richard Virenque.

Henry Sannier

At the end of the interview, Henri Sannier made it his duty and an undisguised pleasure to accompany us to the gate of his house. He deserves to fighting spirit award. This famous red bib is awarded to the most combative Tour de France cyclist at the end of each stage.

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