Chasing victory in the Tour de France since 1985, French riders have also struggled to win major week-long World Tour races. We have to go back to 2007 to find traces of a last major success.

Last French winner of the Tour de France, in 1985, Bernard Hinault drew up an unquestionable observation when discussing the chances of French riders winning the Grande Boucle this year, which are extremely low. There is a statistic that illustrates how far the best French riders are still far from being able to hope to win the Tour. They are already unable, for the moment, to win the major one-week stage races.

Nothing since 2007

The last French success to date, in a major one-week stage race, dates back to 2007. It was Christophe Moreau who won the Dauphiné, with style, notably winning the Mont Ventoux stage with more one minute ahead of its rivals. The AG2R team rider was ahead of Cadel Evans, and relegated the prodigy Alberto Contador to 4 minutes. A month later, Contador would win the Tour ahead of Evans, with Moreau finishing 37th, after exploding in the Pyrenees.

We know that winning a Dauphiné or a Paris-Nice does not guarantee victory in the Tour de France. But it remains a must. Just consult the list of winners of the major one-week stage races this year (Roglic, Pogacar, Martinez, Higuita, Vlasov) to find potential winners on a grand tour. The Bernals, Carapaz, Yates & Co have also been there.

A terrible scarcity

On these events, the French shortage is quite terrible. Laurent Jalabert was the last French winner in Paris-Nice (1997), as well as in the Tour of Catalonia (1995), the Tour de Romandie (1999) and the Tour of the Basque Country (1999). On the Tour de Suisse, Christophe Agnolutto was the last to be on the list, in 1997. No Frenchman has ever won Tirreno-Adriatico.

In recent years, Romain Bardet and Thibaut Pinot, who managed to get on the podium in the Tour de France, have especially shone in the Dauphiné. Bardet finished second in 2016 behind Christopher Froome. Two months later, he will finish… second in the Tour behind Froome. Pinot, he glimpsed victory over a strange 2020 Dauphiné. Propelled leader on the morning of the last stage following the withdrawal of Roglic, the Franc-Comtois finally had to bow to Daniel Felipe Martinez, who beat two Frenchmen on the final podium (Pinot 2nd, Guillaume Martin 3rd). A rider like David Gaudu took a good 5th place on the Tour of the Basque Country in 2021, without confirming so far on the general classification of a grand tour.

And Alaphilippe?

And Julian Alaphilippe then? The tricolor puncher won the Tour of California in 2016. But it is not a leading stage race. At the time, the American event was not on the World Tour calendar. It is all the same an interesting point of reference, which then showed the aptitudes of Alaphilippe in the high mountains. But from there to being able to win the Tour de France…

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