The Tour de France's youngest rider, Anthony Delaplace, drew attention to himself today on stage five through a 115-kilometer breakaway to Cap Fréhel. The Saur-Sojasun Frenchman, who will celebrate his 22nd birthday in September, says he was "happy to be in front but would have preferred to go to the finish."
Delaplace went on the attack with his countryman Sébastien Turgot (Team Europcar), Tristan Valentin (Cofidis) and Spain's José-Ivan Gutierrez (Movistar), who obviously taught the Frenchmen how to ride a breakaway. "We were riding over the top, it was real nuts," Delaplace said. "Gutierrez told us to save energy for the last kilometers. But the peloton didn't give us this opportunity..."
Born in Valognes, Normandy, Delaplace previously targeted an escapee on stage 6 to Lisieux. "But you never decide what day the bunch will give you a wild card," he told Cyclingnews before the start of the stage today in Carhaix. After his breakaway he announced he expected to go on the attack again during the Tour.
Due to his young age, Delaplace is racing the Tour without any pressure from his team. "He's got very good recovery skills but we'll help him to save his energy and relax sometimes," his directeur sportif Nicolas Guillé said. "We have to be careful because he's usually very generous [with his energy] in a race."
Delaplace says he is happy to help his leader Jérôme Coppel like he did yesterday, before the uphill finish at Mûr-de-Bretagne.
He strongly wishes to reach Paris unlike Italian Fabio Felline, the youngest rider of last year's Tour de France, who was aged 20 and withdrew after completing eight stages. "I can't pull out because of my teammates who haven't been selected for racing the Tour," he said. "I will never forget there are strong riders who are not here, notably Jimmy Casper, Julien Simon, Cyril Lemoîne and Jean-Marc Marino. I think of them."
Delaplace made the most of his stint off the front as he claimed the sole KOM of the day's stage, crossing the category 4 Côte de Gurunhuel first.
Delaplace, the French U23 Champion in 2007 and stage winner at the 2010 Tour de l'Avenir, has finished second this year in the Roue Tourangelle and the Boucles de l'Aulne. He also finished 8th overall in the Tour de Bretagne.
"To be the youngest rider is funny," he said. "I didn't know I was until the journos told me. That being said, I expect people will notice me more because of my performances than my young status."
After today's breakaway, his wish might be granted.