Thanks to his 173-kilometer breakaway in the first stage of the Tour de France, FDJ's Jérémy Roy is the first winner of Tour de France's brand new "intermediate sprints." That system replaces the former "bonus sprints" which provided, twice a day, some points for the green jersey and/or bonus time for GC.
There is now only one "intermediate sprint" a day and the first experience in Avrillé town was today a true show, a race into the race. Roy hardly fought to cross the line first, 87 kilometers after the start. He beat his two escapee companions, Lieuwe Westra (Vacansoleil) and Perrig Quémeneur (Europcar). 2:35 later, the peloton produced a very animated sprint, with strong team lead-outs, where Tyler Farrar won that bunch sprint.
Not really famous for his burst of speed, Roy explains he decided to outsprint the breakaway for "fun and show". His performance gives him the 6th place in green jersey's ranking, with 20 points, while leader Philippe Gilbert counts 45 points.
Roy confides he shouldn't try to take additional points in the coming days. "Gilbert will certainly secure his position in stage 4 to Mûr de Bretagne and, whatever are the new rules this year, green jersey remains anyway a sprinters' business", he told Cyclingnews.
Roy doesn't believe the new "intermediate sprints" will favour baroudeurs like him.
"To be fair, rules should change a little bit," he says. "It would be nice to have a ranking only including the intermediate sprints, such as the "Intergiro" in the Giro d'Italia. The current points ranking in the Tour de France mixes both intermediate sprints and finishes, giving two times more points to the latest."
Caught by the peloton with 18 km to go, Roy was happy with his today's breakaway tough. "Somehow I was lucky to be in front because I heard there were many crashes in the peloton." Anthony Roux and Arthur Vichot, his team-mates who were expected in the up-hill finish, were notably involved in the numerous accidents, as well as climber Sandy Casar.
A father of a little Julia since the 20th of June, Roy was supported by his directeur sportif who told him "Think about your daughter!" through radio. "She is a bit too young to have been in front of TV," he laugh. "That's said it's clear that my father role will be a new motivation in the next days. I'd be happy if she watches me on TV". Roy planned to meet his family in Les Essarts, the start of Sunday's stage.
FDJ's baroudeur might try new escapees within the end of the Tour. He recalls his last long adventure in the front of the race before today, was in 2008, on stage 19 to Montluçon, when he finished second behind Sylvain Chavanel. "The last two years I had less freedom to go in front as the team owned two leaders, Sandy Casar and Christophe Le Mével. We understandably had to stay alongside them as long as possible."