Frenchman adds stage win to day in maillot jaune
Tony Gallopin's heart-in-mouth Tour de France stage win in Oyonnax on Wednesday bore more than a small resemblance to Jan Bakelants's victory in Ajaccio, in Corsica, just 12 months previously.
Like Bakelants, Gallopin held on to win his Tour stage after a daring solo attack in the final couple of kilometres, winning by just inches from a fast-finishing bunch.
Bakelants's effort also won him the yellow jersey, which Gallopin has already worn in this year's Tour, taking the maillot jaune on stage nine and wearing it for just one day before it returned to the shoulders of current race leader Vincenzo Nibali.
Gallopin – the nephew of Trek Factory Racing directeur sportif Alain Gallopin – explained that he had scouted out some of the Besançon – Oyonnax stage ahead of the race with his father, Joël, and his fiancée, fellow Lotto-Belisol pro rider Marion Rousse.
"With 20 kilometres to go, I was feeling good, and knew I wanted to try something," explained Gallopin, "but we hadn't seen the final five kilometres into Oyonnax, and so I called my team car alongside me so that [team manager] Marc Sergeant could show me the road book."
Having first hit out alone inside the final five kilometres, without success, Gallopin knew that he had to try again with just under three kilometres to go, giving it everything he had left to prevent the stage coming down to a sprint against riders the Frenchman knew could beat him. It was a case of second time lucky.
Having now both worn the Tour's yellow jersey and won a stage, Gallopin has the rare privilege of being able to explain which achievement is the most emotional.
"They're very different feelings, but the feeling of having won a stage is definitely stronger," Gallopin explained. "I'd thought about wearing the yellow jersey five days before I was actually able to, whereas today I went into the final few hundred metres not knowing whether I was going to be able to win.
"But you have to believe until the end," he continued. "I knew just how often you see riders caught just a couple of metres from the finish line, but, with 500 metres to go, I could see that I had a good gap. At 100 metres to go, I looked back for the last time, and I knew I was going to make it, and that felt fantastic.
"I've felt so many different emotions in the last few days: first winning the yellow jersey, then having a nightmare on the bike the next day, and now I'm a Tour de France stage winner. It's incredible."
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