TOTAL DIRECT ENERGIE
Twenty participations and as many emotion-packed years for Jean-René Bernaudeau's team, which never fails to push the right buttons in July. It boasts the strongest regional roots of any team with its ties to the Vendée department, which in 2018 hosted the Grand Départ for the fifth time in 25 years. Born in 2000, the team then known as Bonjour started to shine in its second participation, when it defended François Simon's yellow jersey between the Alps and the Pyrenees. The goal back then was to prove there was a place in the Tour for lesser-known French cyclists despite Lance Armstrong's supremacy.
After renaming his team to La Boulangère as part of a bailout by local authorities, the "Gypsy of the Bocage" struck gold in 2004. Coming one week before start of the Tour, Thomas Voeckler's first French Championship was not just a quasi-miracle. It heralded a ten-day odyssey in yellow, followed by another one seven years later, this time in Europcar colours but still in the same structure, one which has been repeatedly shaken by internal tensions and an uncertain future.
Curiously enough, JR's team did not win its first stage until Pierrick Fédrigo triumphed in Gap in 2006, in the team's seventh start (this time under its Bouygues Telecom avatar). Europcar was the lucky sponsor that got the team in extremis starting in 2011. Voeckler in yellow, Rolland in white after Charteau took the polka-dots in the previous edition, then Voeckler in the polka-dot and Rolland, again in the top 10 (eighth) in 2012 and a dogged attacker who often wore the polka-dot jersey in 2013…
Voeckler retired at the end of the 2017 Tour de France. For the first time in the history of the team, a sprinter was supposed to fill the leader's boots. Bryan Coquard became sole leader in 2016, when the team still rode in the colours of Direct Énergie (the fifth title sponsor in its history). He scored two near-misses, one on the Champs-Élysées in 2015 and another in Limoges the year after that. His decision to quit the team after the relationship turned sour did little good to his career. Lilian Calmejane stepped up to the plate. The ambitious rider from the Tarn department marked his debut in 2017 with a win in the stage to Les Rousses and has kept the flame of Voeckler and Chavanel alive with his aggressive riding style. The team, now competing as Total Direct Energie, has failed to make an impact in the last two editions.
- Final victory0
- Stages victories10
- Yellows Jerseys23
- Other races Won3
Stage wins: 10
- 2006: Pierrick Fédrigo in Gap
- 2009: Thomas Voeckler in Perpignan and Pierrick Fédrigo in Tarbes
- 2010: Thomas Voeckler in Bagnères-de-Luchon and Pierrick Fédrigo in Pau
- 2011: Pierre Rolland on the Alpe d'Huez
- 2012: Thomas Voeckler in Bellegarde-sur-Valserine and Bagnères-de-Luchon, and Pierre Rolland at La Toussuire
- 2017: Lilian Calmejane at Les Rousses
Secondary classification wins: 3
- 2010: Anthony Charteau (mountains classification)
- 2011: Pierre Rolland (best young rider)
- 2012: Thomas Voeckler (mountains classification)
Yellow jerseys: 23
- 2001: François Simon, three days
- 2004: Thomas Voeckler, ten days
- 2011: Thomas Voeckler, ten days
A FIGURE 20:
the number of days spent in yellow by Thomas Voeckler in his two stints in the jersey.
29 July 2001: François Simon finishes the Tour de France in sixth place after wearing the yellow jersey for three days thanks to a mammoth breakaway.
8 July 2004: French champion Thomas Voeckler slips into a breakaway on the road to Chartres and gets the yellow jersey for ten days in the midst of Lance Armstrong's hegemony.
22 July 2011: Pierre Rolland, the best young rider of the Tour, drops Alberto Contador and Olympic champion Samuel Sánchez to become the first Frenchman to triumph on the Alpe d'Huez since Bernard Hinault in 1986.
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