French cycling enjoys best Tour de France since 1997

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Jean-Christophe Peraud and Thibaut Pinot became the first French podium finishers since 1997.

Peraud went into the final stage of the Tour de France in second place with fellow Frenchman Pinot in third and nothing changed changed in the ceremonial final stage in Paris on the Champs-Elysees.

There could have been a fourth place finish for a French rider too but Romain Bardet suffered a puncture during stage 20's time trial and dropped to sixth in the overall standings.

French revolution

This has been the best Tour for French riders for many years and some people believe this race could spark more successes in coming Tours.

Stephen Roche admits he doesn't think any of the high French finishers will win the Tour but believes they can be proud of what they have done for French cycling.

The 1987 Tour de France winner said, according to Cycling Weekly: “These guys are top 10s yes, not podium riders yet. We can’t get too crazy about it because we don’t have Froome, Contador, Quintana and whoever else here at the Tour.

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“It’s great for their confidence, helps them get experience, but they need to stay realistic. That’s the most important thing for a French cycling, which is always looking for a new Hinault or Fignon. You don’t want to put them up too much.

"They’ve done a great race, but let’s not forget the reality that the big tour riders are out.”


I tend to agree with Roche's comments that if the main contenders such as Chris Froome and Alberto Contador hadn't crashed the likes of Pinot and Peraud wouldn't be in the top three because they aren't as strong as these riders.

Sky DS Nicolas Portal believes the French riders are ready to challenge for a podium finishes in future Tours but thinks French teams shouldn't be afraid of signing foreign riders.

Portal said: “The French guys have stepped up, but the question is how much? You need to look at the numbers, climbing times, times in time trials…

“The good thing is that they know they can do it now. For many years, in my generation, they kept asking when is the next Hinault or Fignon coming. Now they know they can do it, fight for the podium, even if the big stars are not here.


“They need to keep their feet on the ground, of course, and work on improving the staff and team around them. They need the support. The French teams shouldn’t be worried about signing foreigners to work for their French leaders.

"It’s not a problem to sign Americans, Brits or Italians. Sometimes, French teams can be a little too old school.”

There is no doubt that when the big names return next year it will be hard for Peraud, Pinot and Bardet to get near the top of the general classification but if they continue riding well there is no reason why they couldn't win a major tour.

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