The big Tour favorites Jonas Vingegaard and Tadej Pogacar had long since passed this section at the foot of the Col de Joux Plane when a group of fans on the side of the road freaked out completely at the sight of another driver. And the one they saw there forgot all the hardships of this tough 14th stage of the Tour de France for the moment, smiled – and did the unbelievable: He got off his bike and joined the wild party.
This is what happened on Saturday during the Tour of France. The professional? 27-year-old Frenchman Benoit Cosnefroy. The audience? His personal fan club. That the Tour de France is an ordeal, no one doubts that the spectators always make it a party, neither do they. Cosnefroy proved impressively that as a professional you can combine both and turn the ordeal into a party – to the delight of his fans. The most surprising and unbelievable party of this tour. without a doubt.
When Cosnefroy saw his singing fan club, he didn’t hesitate. waste of time? Get out of step? Focus on the race? Doesn’t matter. He spontaneously got off his bike, let himself be celebrated and allowed himself a deep sip from a mug, which he emptied completely in one gulp, while a Bengali torch burned next to him and shrouded the scenery in blue smoke. He then hugged a few fans and triumphantly lifted his racing bike in the air before jumping over the asphalt with his followers, singing exuberantly.
The fan club called FCC supports both Cosnefroy and his AG2R teammate Aurélien Paret-Peintre, who was born in Annemasse, the starting point of stage 14. “We are here with the FCC and some friends. We invited everyone to have a shot at the bar, eat something and have a good time,” Cosnefroy’s wife Margaux told France 2. Paret-Peintre’s friend Clara also proudly pointed out that you’re out on the street all night painted.
Cosnefroy continued the stage after the party break and reached the finish in a group with Paret-Peintre 37:29 minutes behind the day’s winner Carlos Rodriguez (Spain). In the overall standings, the classics specialist in 102nd place is already more than three hours behind leader Vingegaard.
The duel between the two tour favorites on Saturday was again exciting and spectacular. You give yourself nothing. An incident shortly before the finish caused a stir: Pogacar attacked defending champion Vingegaard about 500 meters before the pass of the Col de Joux Plane, but had to brake just a few meters later on the steep climb because a photographer’s and a TV motorcycle were riding next to each other and blocked the street. Pogacar admitted at the finish in Morzine that he lacked the strength to sprint for the bonus seconds at the summit. So Vingegaard got three seconds more than the overall second.
“This is the tour, so many people everywhere. The bike shouldn’t have been there, but the photographers just wanted to do their job,” said Pogacar’s team boss Mauro Gianetti. The 59-year-old does not think of a complaint. The tour organization ASO took action for this.
The two motorcyclists, the cameraman and the photographer are not allowed to take part in the 15th stage on Sunday to Saint-Gervais on Mont Blanc. In addition, both crews were fined 500 Swiss francs (around 515 euros). According to the regulations, motorcyclists in particular are required to always keep a sufficient distance from the drivers.
It is still agreed that the bonus seconds will not play a role in the end. “I don’t think the tour will be won in three seconds in Paris,” said Rolf Aldag, head of sports at the German team Bora-hansgrohe. There used to be such disruptions occasionally, but today the drivers are much faster. “They accelerate, it’s like a sprint final. By the time the motorcyclist turns on the gas, the racing driver is already with him in the trunk.”
Regardless of the incident, Bora professional Nils Politt was bothered by the fact that the tour was getting closer and closer. “It’s extremely partial,” said the German time trial champion. “Somehow you should limit that,” the drivers should have free rein. However, there was enough space at the end of the Joux Plane, the fans were held back by police officers and a rope.