The search for a French winner
The Prudhomme office breathes careers of the official route map publication in 2017 on its wall to the litany of books in the cycling library behind his desk, some of which date back to the age of seven.
“My first memory of the visit is to see a face with glasses, and a lot of people, and Jan Janssen was about to win the Tour,” he recalls, referring to the Dutch rider who won the race in 1968.
“I went back to the Tour with friends close to Geneva, I wanted to see Raymond Poulidor [his former idol], but I did not do it.” Instead, I saw Eddy Merckx wearing the yellow jersey on his shoulders.
“The Tour has made me want to be a journalist, and I’ve never imagined to become the Tour Director.”
Read: Around the world in 80 days on a bicycle …
Prudhomme rose in the fan commentator’s ranks on radio and television for the Deputy Director in charge before taking the race in 2007.
Can you still enjoy? “It’s less stressful as a journalist,” he said, laughing with his head bowed.
“As a fan, I knew everything about the Tour, but now I’m more worried about a kid who loses his father’s hand when he’s on the side of the road.”
France has been crying over a home Tour winner since 1985, and the argument is once again the question of whether a Frenchman could go to victory on the Champs-Elysees comes July 23.
Referring, Prudhomme accoche shoulders: “When it comes to the month of June and July in France, it’s the same.” All eyes turn to Yannick Noah, the last French winner of the French Open in 1983 and Bernard Hinault as winner of the Last tour in 1985.
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There are three, I would have said no, but since then there have been three French drivers on the podium, but the two steps to go higher are pretty steep and difficult to access.
“There is so much competition with more nations and the event is so great that even if the French riders are not good, it’s still a fantastic time.”
The 56-year-old follower is convinced he does not want the roadblocks on the road, logistics to their limit.
But he did not hide his desire to push foreign jurisdictions. His first tour in charge began in London, this year the race starting in Germany. Are there limits to the Tour, where can you go?
Let’s go where there is passion “he said, making a gesture to emphasize that passion.” If Belgium was 20 000 km, we should look at this passion.
“The day that takes two hours to Melbourne or Adelaide, why not. The most important thing is the link to cycling, where there is passion.”