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The first professional women’s Tour de France starts Sunday in Paris. On the eve of the big start, the riders, gathered in Meaux for the formal presentation, expressed their impatience.
A dose of impatience, a lot of excitement and a little pressure … On the eve of the start of the Women’s Tour de France, the 144 riders who will start the event, Sunday July 24, in Paris, experienced a climax that emotions during the presentation of the 24 teams.
The existence of this ceremonial meeting, on the eve of the race, is a novelty for most of the runners. Like Barbara Fonseca, one of the runners of Saint-Michel Auber 93: “Everything is a little bigger. For example, we came to take the official photos. Usually, we are more than our little bubble in the hotel “, He smiled.
For her, running this women’s Tour de France has finally been a success. The 31-year-old woman actually continued cycling in 2017 in the “Donnons des Elles au vélo J-1” operation, running the day’s stages before the men to campaign for a Women’s Tour. “In this Tour de France, the circle is complete,” he joked.
“I am excited and motivated to start! The tension is increasing, especially in the last days, we are afraid of catching the Covid. But, that’s it! We are here”, enthuses Evita Muzic, of FDJ -Suez -Futuroscope, which acting as a mountain ranger for its leaders, Cecilie Uttrup-Ludwig and Marta Cavalli.
The French in the center of attention
Runners profited from their newfound fame, especially the French who attracted media attention. Like Juliette Labous, one of France’s best chances in the final general classification, who answered all the requests, under the amused eye of her DSM colleague, Liane Lippert, even wearing in the tunic of the German champion.
“I am looking forward to tomorrow. There is excitement and also a little pressure”, admitted the winner of the stage of the Tour of Italy 2022. “It will all be decided in the last two stages, so than that in the vineyard paths between Troyes and Bar-sur-Aube.”
The Franc-Comtoise can count on an additional source of motivation in the last two days: the route of the Tour de France 2022 ends at home, at the top of a Planche des Belles filles that he knows well.
Also read: Women’s Tour de France: at the wheel of Cofidis, scouting the Planche des Belles Filles
The end of the course with the summits of Markstein and the Planche des Belles Filles that scared part of the peloton: “We are happy to be there but there is a little fear. The best in the world are there. Everyone in the world makes it a goal, the week will be long and painful,” warned Morgane Coston, of the Arkea Pro Cycling team.
We left Gladys Verhulst during a tearful press conference last June at the French championships in Cholet. Normande finished third on the podium, beating Audrey Cordon-Ragot by a hair.
He arrived at this Tour renewed and ready to fight: “I want to wear the blue-white-red jersey in this Tour, that’s for sure … , he explained.
“I don’t think I have fully realized that I will run the Tour de France. Maybe tomorrow, when we start to fight for victory on the Champs-Élysées”, admitted one who always dreamed of running the Tour, confessing that have “goosebumps”.
Audrey Cordon-Ragot measures the progress that has been made
At the age of 32, Audrey Cordon-Ragot has a long career behind her. The 2022 French champion has even begun to despair that the Tour de France Women will see the light of day.
“It’s time to end the wait! We’ve been very busy and now it’s time for it to stop: it’s time for sport”, said the Breton woman. “We will prove to everyone that we do as well as the boys.”
“My goal is to arrive at this Tour with the blue-white-red jersey. That’s why I can say that it was successful. Now, I will work (as a teammate, editor’s note) to the maximum so that Elisa Balsamo (the world champion, nldr) and Elisa Longo Borghini win”, he explained, confident that he has no personal ambitions.
Before leaving for the Grande Boucle, the French champion took the time to measure the path traveled for women’s cycling: “I know where we came from, I experienced years of hardship, I changed Back in my car, I have colleagues who have to stop due to lack of money… And now, with the Tour de France, we are far from all that”, he says.
La Bretonne also hopes that the public will be on the sidelines, as it is every year for the men: “I admit that I’m a little afraid that we will be disappointed … But I say to myself that it’s always better than usual. And it’s up to us that they want to come and see you next year!”