Maxime Chevalier on the Tour de France.
Maxime Chevalier, youngest of the Tour de France at 21, is about to complete his first Grande Boucle on Sunday in Paris.
The runner of B & B Hotels-Vital Concept, passed by the US Pontchâteau, was still an amateur at the beginning of the year.
A meteoric rise for this young rider, who fell three times at the start of the Tour.
Wednesday evening, when we had him on the phone while he was on a massage table, the former US Pontchâteau (Loire-Atlantique) licensee Maxime Chevalier had the feeling that he had changed his sport: “J I felt like I was climbing with impressive slopes of up to 24% ”.
The B & B Hotels-Vital Concept runner, managed by the Nantes native Jérôme Pineau, had just slipped past the Col de la Loze in the Alps.
Terrible suffering for the youngest (21 years old) of this Grande Boucle which a few months ago was still running in… amateurs.
Interview with a cyclist for whom everything went very quickly.
What state of mind are you Maxime in four days of the end of your first Tour de France?
I can't wait to be at the Champs Elysées.
I'm just waiting for that and I hope I can get there and experience the thrill of finishing a Big Loop.
For a first Tour, you couldn't have started badly ...
Yes, it was complicated from the start.
I fell the first day, not a very serious fall.
I fell back on the tenth stage on the Ile d'Oléron during a collective fall.
It's okay, it was in a field.
The concern is that my bike broke.
I changed and then got into the cars in front of me.
I hurt myself a little more.
I struggled two or three days behind.
Do we manage to take pleasure with so much suffering?
Yes, we have fun.
I know I'm very lucky to be here.
There are a lot of guys out there who would love to be in my shoes, even though it's not always funny.
There is a lot of suffering.
Pierre Rolland, my teammate, told me again earlier that he has never done such a hard lap.
That reassures me and I tell myself that in the future I will not be able to have a harder race than this one.
Do you realize that a year ago you won (in the jersey of the Pays de Loudéac team) the Grand Prix de Fougères in Ille-et-Vilaine, an amateur race?
Yes, I remember it, it was a great amateur victory with the summit of the Pinterie coast.
But, there is worse than that.
I was still an amateur at the start of the year.
I did the Vendée beaches circuit for example.
I turned pro on February 24 to be precise.
It is unheard of to start a season with amateurs and do the Tour de France the same year.
The helicopters, the public, the media etc.
it changes me from amateur races ...
Did it go at breakneck speed for you?
Yes, especially since I have the most beautiful races like the Critérium du Dauphiné just before the Tour de France.
It's a chance to start with such tough races.
I learn a lot.
Maxime Chevalier, masked.
Do you still widen your eyes like in the first stages?
At first, I was impressed with the event.
Now there is a routine that has taken hold.
I remain focused on the race.
My goal is really to arrive in Paris on Sunday and I'm hanging on for that.
I don't think it would be a feat for me to finish, but more of a great pride and a great relief.
Is there still something that surprises you about the Tour with your novice eyes?
What surprises me the most is seeing teams racing all day while I am in the wheels and I am in great pain.
I wonder how they do it.
It's another level, it impresses me enormously.
I am not in a position to do what they are doing.
I haven't gotten to that point.
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