For its fifth edition, the Tour de la Provence, which starts this Thursday from Châteaurenard and ends on Sunday in Aix-en-Provence, offers a choice plateau where some renowned French runners can shine.
As of this Thursday, Nacer Bouhanni, the sprinter of Arkea-Samsic, can offer himself a success in France where he has not won since…. June 14, 2018 and the first stage of the Tour d'Occitanie. Bouhanni was not to line up at the start because his racing program was to take him to the Tour of Oman. But the cancellation of the test forced him to modify his plans.
"I live ten minutes from Aix-en-Provence," he smiles. I'm at home and I'm going to take my training routes. Last week, Bouhanni ended more than 17 months without a win by winning a stage in the Tour of Saudi Arabia. “It made me feel good and I hope that I will have recovered from the jet lag this Thursday because the stage should be judged in the sprint. "
Bad memory of Mont Ventoux for Pinot
Warren Barguil, his teammate at Arkea-Samsic, comes with more modest ambitions. "The idea is to make my mark with Nairo Quintana," he says. The most important will be for later with the spring classics. "
The great French attraction will be Thibaut Pinot, who will resume competition for the first time since his retirement from the Tour de France during the Tignes stage. "It will make me a little weird to resort, loose the Franc-Comtois. And I am in a hurry to know where I am physically, especially since there will be major runners in this event. "
For Pinot, the hour of truth will ring on Saturday with the stage that will climb Mont Ventoux. Even if the climb will stop mid-slope at Chalet-Reynard. “I am not superstitious but the two times I went on the Ventoux, I gave up the next day. I have bad memories there. Especially the time I climbed it with 40 ° fever and white sore throat. That suffering, I think about it every time I come back. "