By Jean-François Quénet in Plumelec
Française des Jeux's Lilian Jégou became the first rider of the 2008 Tour de France to wear the red number of the most aggressive rider after spending most of the 197.5 kilometre stage in a breakaway. Jégou launched the first attack just two kilometers after the real start given on the magnificent bridge Albert Louppe at the exit of Brest. "We are four Breton riders at FDJ and we were really motivated to get away," Jégou said. "Today, it was me, tomorrow, it will be another one."
With seven other breakaway riders, Jégou spent more than 190km away, and was the last man caught with Spaniard David de la Fuente with seven kilometres to go. "We would have needed 10 or 15 minutes lead to be able to believe in the possibility of a stage win. Unfortunately, the bunch didn't let us have more than eight or nine minutes."
Jégou had a good day anyway, especially in the second part of the stage which passed close to the town of Vannes where he lives. He hails from Nantes where he owns a bike shop with his brother Jean-François, but he knows that stage three is built for pure sprinters and he has less chance to win in his native city. "It was great to cross Brittany in the lead group," he added. "Many people shouted my name, I hope they'll remember and come and cheer again next winter when I'll be taking part in cyclo-cross races here." Jégou claimed his first and only pro win so far at the Tour du Limousin last year, but he is a very popular rider in the west of France.
A couple of minutes after crossing the line in Plumelec, he wondered if he had become a father while he was battling on the road. "My wife is expecting a baby in the next few hours, I should call and find out," he said. No such news arrived for him on the day of his epic ride at the Tour de France, so he was able to focus again on the next stage. "I'll be tired after what I did today but we have something good to try with Philippe Gilbert who came second to Valverde, we'll try to get him the yellow jersey in Saint-Brieuc", a smiling Jégou concluded