INTERMARCHE - WANTY - GOBERT MATERIAUX
Four Belgian teams will be rolling up to the start line of the 2021 Tour de France in a blast from the past. Three decades ago, in 1991, it was Lotto–Superclub–MBK, Histor–Sigma, Weinmann–Eddy Merckx and Tonton Tapis–GB–Corona. After three consecutive starts in 2017, 2018 and 2019, Intermarché–Wanty-Gobert is picking up right where it left off. Its purchase of the Polish CCC team's WorldTour licence was the ticket back to the top tier of cycling for the structure founded as a Continental team in 2008 and now managed by Jean-François Bourlart. From 2011 on it raced in the second division (Pro Continental) under its successive avatars as Veranda's Willems, Accent Jobs–Wanty and Wanty–Gobert.
When the team then known as Wanty–Groupe Gobert made its Tour de France debut in 2017, its nine riders were also first timers. It played its troublemaker role to perfection, lighting up the race every time that the route entered breakaway territory, especially during the first week, with men such as Yoann Offredo and Frederik Backaert, whose background as a farmer-cum-cyclist turned him into a media darling. The team's other attraction was cyclist-philosopher Guillaume Martin, holder of a degree from the University of Nanterre and author of the book Socrate à vélo ("Socrates on a bike"), who tapped his physical potential to finish 23rd on his first Tour de France and third on stage 8 to Les Rousses, a performance he followed up with 21st and 12th place in his next two starts for the Walloon team.
In 2019, the Grand Départ from Brussels and the start of stage 3 in Binche (which will again feature this year on stage six), where the squad is based, set the stage for the team to shine and take several combativity awards throughout the duration of the race, including the prize for the most combative rider of the first week for Yoann Offredo. Xandro Meurisse's third place on La Planche des Belles Filles and his finish as the top Belgian rider (21st overall) were the talk of the town in his home country. The other headline-grabbing personality in the Belgian team, sometimes to the point of caricature, is Hilaire Van der Schueren. Now in his seventies, he is a relic of a bygone age who started off as an assistant to Guillaume Driessens (one of Eddy Merckx's team managers) and then Jan Raas in the mid-1980s. Italian Valerio Piva is now the main man in charge of a team that that has become much more professional in a short period of time, even leading a first black African rider, Biniam Girmay, to victory in a Flemish classic (Ghent-Wevelgem 2022) and a Grand Tour stage (at the Giro 2022). It has given a new lease of life to Guillaume Martin, who finished 12th on the 2019 Tour de France, and has recruited 2020’s first Yellow Jersey, Alexander Kristoff.
- Final victory0
- Stages victory0
- Yellow Jersey0
- Other race Won0
Overall wins: 0
Podium finishes: 0
Stage wins: 0
Secondary classification wins: 0
Yellow jerseys: 0
14: the best final position to date on the Tour de France by an Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux rider, namely Louis Meintjes.
8 July 2017: Guillaume Martin becomes the first Wanty–Groupe Gobert rider to finish in the top 3 of a Tour de France stage at the end of stage 8 to Les Rousses.
10 July 2018: Three Wanty–Groupe Gobert riders finish in the top 10 of stage 4 to Sarzeau: Andrea Pasqualon (sixth), Dion Smith (ninth) and Timothy Dupont (tenth).
11 July 2019: Xandro Meurisse finishes third on La Planche des Belles Filles, behind Dylan Teuns and Giulio Ciccone.
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