Stage 15. Heat stroke in Jauresian lands

Carcassonne (Aude), special envoy.

By writing its march in the limitless to infinity, the great hourglass of the Tour reminded us, shelling out this fascinating distortion of time which dictates the tempo of this world in reduction and demands excess from the men who honor it. Between Rodez and Carcassonne (202.5 km), in a descent due south towards the heat wave, we realized, on the eve of a new rest, that the event was already entering the straight line. They were only 154 survivors left to start, one of the great leaders of the race missing. In the morning, the Slovenian Primoz Roglic announced his retirement (1). An altruistic actor in the rout of Tadej Pogacar towards the Granon, the captain of the Jumbo, 32, had never really recovered from his heavy fall on the cobblestones of the North. Moved since as a luxury teammate of Jonas Vingegaard, he explained: “I stop there to allow my wounds to heal. I am proud of my participation and I have confidence in my team to realize our ambitions. » The curse of the Tour therefore pursues him. Beaten by Pogacar the day before Paris in 2020, during the memorable time of the Planche des Belles Filles, remember that a cursed tumble, last year from the third stage in Brittany, had forced him to give up a week later. No doubt we will find him on the Vuelta, where he will aim for a fourth victory in a row.

We were there, when we entered the infernal furnace of an unusual afternoon, when a battle had just been tied for the formation of the « good breakaway », made up of the ineffable Van Aert, Politt and Honored. On a more uneven course than it seemed, skirting for example the elevated site of Ambialet (3rd cat.), where the Tarn describes a masterful loop (km 64). We had pointed out for a long time on the « route book » the crossing of Villefranche-d’Albigeois (km 74), where the municipality unfurled a banner: “The Tour de France in the homeland of Jaurès. » The chronicœur allowed himself to be guided by his emotion as an archivist living with a passion for history, thinking back to his trips to the family home of Bessoulet, for the purposes of a novel and to feel the presence of the great man and founder of Humanity.

Identical to what it was more than a hundred years ago, as white as a ray of light under the blazing sun, the mythical den of Bessoulet has belonged since the 1950s to the local authorities of Carmaux and Saint-Benoît. .

There was no heatwave drama

It was here that the famous tribune, between a meeting at the seat of the human or a speech at the National Assembly, prepared and declaimed his speeches along the alley of chestnut trees, since disappeared, on the edge of the park. For this preserved place but little known to the general public, the city councilors decided to submit an application in order to obtain the Maisons des Illustres label. The People of the Tour, present en masse a few hundred meters away, remained on the fringes of the property, once adored by the youngest son of Jean Jaurès, little Louis, « Loulou », who died at the front in June 1918 at the 19 years old. The chronicoeur thought of the allegorical value of the moment, defined by the living ruins of a world that had yet passed. A bit like with the Ancestral Towers. The unstoppable melancholy of the irreparable.

When the vanguard of the peloton left Villefranche-d’Albigeois, Politt and Honoré found themselves orphans of Wout Van Aert, who had finally got up, following the instructions of his sports director. In the heart of the Tarn and the Aude, the thermometer panicked and displayed extreme temperatures: 37 degrees, then 38, 40… which meant that the asphalt of the roads, in certain places, exceeded 60 degrees. A major risk for the organisms which, in the event of water deficits, could collapse when the « heat stroke » causes shivers and abnormally accelerates the pulse. Hence the implementation of stratagems: ice pack, cooling vests, and of course liters of water, up to twelve, in order to avoid dehydration resulting in a 20% loss of physical capacity. Not to mention the overheating of the body which, if it exceeds 40 degrees, can cause death in full effort…

There was no heatwave drama. Except the fall and the abandonment of Dutchman Steven Kruijswijk: another Jumbo. We also saw the yellow jersey touch the asphalt, without consequence, other than psychological… Subsequently, the first escapees (Politt and Honoré) were swallowed up, as were two new suitors, Gougeard then Benjamin Thomas, lonely and very close to the feat, which shook up a dry peloton up to 500 meters. And the non-massive sprint (exit Ewan, Jakobsen), at the foot of the ramparts, went to Belgian Jasper Philipsen, 24 (Alpecin).

The chronicoeur breathed very hard, the breath already carried towards the torn horizon of the Pyrenees. A sentence from Vingegaard was striking on Saturday evening: “Pogacar? He might even attack me during the rest day! » The Dane expects permanent harassment, he who discovers both the glory and the weight of the yellow overcoat. Walking in the unlimited Tour always has a cost.

(1) Two Covid positives had to give up: the Australian Simon Clarke and the Dane Magnus cort Nielsenwinners respectively at Arenberg and Megeve.

Stage of the day

  1. J. Philipsen (BEL/ALP), in 4h 27′ 27”
  2. W. Van Aert (BEL/JUM) mt
  3. Mr. Pedersen (DAN/SEG) mt

Icon TitleGeneral classification

  1. J. Vingegaard (DAN / JUM), in 59 h 58′ 28”
  2. T. Pogacar (SLO/UAE), at 2′ 22”
  3. G. Thomas (GBR/ING), at 2′ 43”

Green jersey (points). W. Van Aert (BEL/JUM), 378 pts
Polka dot jersey (climber). S. Geschke (GER / COF), 46 pts
White jersey (best youngster). T. Pogacar (SLO/UAE)


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