Breton rider Valentin Madouas French road cycling champion

Breton rider Valentin Madouas won alone on Sunday in the road race of the French Road Cycling Championships in Cassel, in the North, a consecration one week before the start of the Tour 2023. Madouas, 26, who will put on the blue-white-red jersey, took the lead alone about twenty kilometers from the finish after a coup by his Groupama-FDJ team on the grueling and overheated course of Flanders. He succeeds Florian Sénéchal on the list.

Embraced by his father Laurent, himself a former cyclist (eight participations in the Tour de France) on the main square of the northern village, the Finisterian signs the sixth success (the most significant) of his career. Thanks to Rudy Molard, second, Groupama-FDJ managed a double, while Julien Bernard (also the son of a former cyclist, Jean-François Bernard (3rd in the 1987 Tour)) completed the podium.


This victory is a consecration for the “Breton Tractor” (his nickname), capable of a third place in the Tour of Flanders last year as well as a Top 10 in the final classification of the Grande Boucle. The 4,200 meters of elevation gain on Sunday promised a “construction site” in the unanimous opinion of the riders, and the Groupama-FDJ collective attacked the course with a jackhammer. More than 190 kilometers from the finish (out of 224), a royal group formed with Thibaut Pinot and David Gaudu, joined a few terminals further by Valentin Madouas, who started against. A breakaway where Marc Madiot’s men were over-represented (8 out of 22 riders).

The new wearer of the tricolor jersey never left the outposts afterwards, according to the various junctions, groups coming together and coming apart. Julian Alaphilippe, tipped to be the big favourite, finally gave up 96 kilometers from the finish before giving up, obviously the victim of a heatstroke. “With this heat (31 degrees, editor’s note), there can be failures as much as with the rain or the cold”, announced Benoit Cosnefroy on Friday. He himself suffered a total extinction at the moment of the decisive running movement, on an acceleration of David Gaudu in the brutal slope of the Porte d’Aire (1 km at almost 8%), easily followed on the other hand by Madouas.

David Gaudu as well as Rudy Molard, who managed the junction, offered two final relays to the “Breton Tractor” that neither the heat nor the two beautiful bumps of the 13 km course (for 224 km in total) could stop. Thibaut Pinot, for his final French Championship, finished seventh.

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