It’s no coincidence that in cycling these one day courses that come back every year are called classics. They slip into the calendar at the same time as they embrace a territory. We observe them as an indestructible statue that sits in the center of the village square. Thus, the feeling that we have always lived with and that the future cannot be written without them shines through.
Except that the year 2020, its health crisis and its economic consequences, have many certainties shattered. This damn pandemic has gone so far as to revise our classics by upsetting our most established convictions. And last year, when Paris-Gien-Bourges was canceled, we understood how much we missed her.
How to get around and where to park before and during the Paris-Gien-Bourges cycling race [carte]
Comment therefore not to surrender with a smile from ear to ear on Gien’s victory this Thursday morning. These same ears who will find their Madeleine de Proust from 11:15 a.m. when Daniel Mangeas will pick up one by one the names and the winners of the riders lined up for this 70th Paris-Gien-Bourges.
It is also not impossible that this streak is a bit longer than in previous years. Not that the former speaker of the Tour has badly set his score – he masters the exercise on the fingertips. But the pedigree of the participants weighs, this year, heavier than during the pre-pandemic editions.
Marc Sarreau does not defend his title but there are many contenders
It is also difficult to know where and by whom to start. Perhaps by Arnaud Démare, his three titles of champion of France, his four stages on the Giro, his two successes on the Tour de France and his victory at Milan-San Remo? Or by Jasper Stuyven, winner of this same course in March under the nose and beard of Van Aert, Van der Poel and other Alaphilippe?
When a cyclist is in the recovery phase, they tend to do things smoothly. Small plate, large pinion, the legs twist and shape returns. Conversely, it is on a large plateau and with a hell of a gear that the only professional race arriving in the Cher marks its return to the cycling calendar, still at the initiative of the Union Bourges Cher Cyclisme and its president, Laurent Planchon. If the Berry rider Marc Sarreau, tenant of the title after his victorious sprint two years ago, is absent due to an injury, there are many contenders for his succession. And like every year, it is in the sprinter category that they should be looked for.
This course almost always happens in a sprint, eight out of ten chances for it to happen that way. The difficulties are centered on Sancerre. After the bosses, it’s long enough to get to the finish line, which favors the sprint scenario.
“This race almost always happens in a sprint, with eight chances out of ten for it to happen this way,” explains Franck Pineau, sporting director of the Groupama-FDJ team, who knows the place perfectly since he was born in Bourges. The difficulties are centered on Sancerre. After the bosses, it’s long enough to get to the finish line, which favors the sprint scenario. “
Indeed, rare are the editions which did not know a massive arrival. And even in 2018, when the young Valentin Madouas had won after a daring offensive, he had preceded, on Boulevard de la République, the sprinters Bryan Coquard and Christophe Laporte who came back to him like bombs. Two boys who will also be at the start this Thursday morning. And they also missed the classic.