“Don’t compare me to Laurent Fignon”: Geoffrey Bouchard, best climber of the Giro

He is 29 years old, has only been a professional for two seasons and unknown to the general public. And yet, it’s a small feat that the rider of the AG2R-Citröen team, Geoffrey Bouchard, has just accomplished on the Tour of Italy. He won the final classification for the Giro’s best climber blue jersey. To fully appreciate the performance, all you have to do is look at the race record. Since the creation of this classification in 1933, only three French before him had won the mountain classification: Louison Bobet (1951), Raphaël Geminiani (1952, 1957) and the last, Laurent Fignon in 1984.

And Geoffrey Bouchard is starting to become an exercise specialist. In his career, he has played three big tours and has already pocketed two titles of best climber since in 2019, he had already won that of the Tour of Spain. “It’s nice on a track record, but I really would have preferred to win a stage on this Giro,” he explains. That was the goal. But slowly, I got caught up in the game and fought to the end. But don’t compare me to Laurent Fignon please. It’s not the same track record. “

Professional at 27

The curves of the mountains nevertheless fit well with his personal journey. When you become a professional at only 27 years old, it’s because the obstacles have risen in front of you. “In my family, we were more connected with football,” he explains. I was playing in Dijon and when we moved to Voiron (Isère), I wanted to cycle. My father initially refused, telling me There are only doped in there. But I still rode as an amateur on a bike for 250 euros, with an aluminum frame and steel rims. My father ended up taking me to Decathlon. It was too expensive, but the seller agreed to lend me some good equipment. “

Not really assiduous in his studies, Bouchard became a bicycle salesman at the age of 25, in the Decathlon store in Bourgoin-Jallieu. But reconciling the bike and the work becomes complicated. “I know what it’s like to leave for work at 8 am and come home at 9 pm, with a two hour round trip. When I got on the bike the day after a working day, I felt like I was coming out of a stage race. “In 2018, he took the gamble of devoting himself 100% to cycling. That year, he won about fifteen races, including the French amateur championship.

A title that opens the doors of AG2R to him. “I still took a lot of tests to prove that I was clean,” he says. A 26 year old guy who wins a lot of races at once, that could have been suspicious. But like my friends used to say you don’t have any pots “. Quickly, the trainee contract turns into a professional contract. Vincent Lavenu, the boss of the team, remembering no doubt that the last rider of his training passed pro so late is called Jean-Christophe Péraud, 2nd of the Tour 2014. And that the last French amateur champion he had Enlisted was Christophe Riblon, winner at Alpe-d’Huez in 2013. “Now, I really want to discover the Tour de France one day, continues Bouchard. To hope to win a stage. But not aim for the polka dot jersey. There, I still have a huge sign on the back, don’t I? “

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