By winning on the second day of the race, Victor Lafay saved French cycling from leaving the Tour de France without a stage victory, which has only happened twice in history.
Fortunately he was there, Victor Lafay. Without the exploit of the Cofidis rider, who surprised the favorites during the 2nd stage in the Basque country, the French riders would undoubtedly have completed this Tour de France without a stage victory. A disaster that has only happened twice in the history of the race, during the 110 editions: in 1926 and in 1999.
It has already happened over the past few years that French runners have come close to point zero. No later than last year, when Christophe Laporte saved the honor during the 19th stage. In 2016, Romain Bardet opened the counter in Saint-Gervais-Mont-Blanc, two days before the arrival in Paris. Two years ago, Julian Alaphilippe won from day one in Brittany. And there was nothing after that.
On this edition, apart from the Lafay surprise, the French riders seemed quite far from stage victory. Pierre Latour (TotalEnergies) finished second at Puy-de-Dôme, but Michael Woods was stronger that day. In Belleville-en-Beaujolais, his teammate Mathieu Burgaudeau also signed a second place, but Ion Izagirre had crossed the finish line as the winner almost a minute ago. The expected French leaders, such as Julian Alaphilippe, Thibaut Pinot or Romain Bardet, failed to achieve success on the pedal.
This year, in 21 stages, there were however 17 runners who managed to raise their arms. The bouquets were well distributed, even if Jasper Philipsen dominated the sprints (4 wins), while Tadej Pogacar is the other rider to have won at least twice. The leaders of the peloton were more often rewarded than the fighters, since seven of the first eight in the general classification won their stage. Too bad for David Gaudu, Guillaume Martin and Thibaut Pinot, respectively 9th, 10th and 11th at the finish.