Looking at the top ten of Sunday's stage two of the Giro d'Italia, which ended in a bunch sprint taken by world champion Mark Cavendish (Sky), one name stood out: the one of third-placed Geoffrey Soupe (FDJ-Big Mat). The 24-year-old was not expected to finish so high up in the stage results, and for quite a while after the finish it was his teammate Arnaud Démare, FDJ's star sprinter, who was announced to have scored a podium place.
Démare, however, finished 24th, while his lead-out man Soupe sprinted his way to media attention. It was such a surprise, even for himself, that the first thing he did when he was back at the bus was to apologise to his team leader.
"I'm sorry I disrespected team orders but at a certain point I lost sight of you," was what Soupe told Démare, according to L'Equipe, feeling guilty for having scored such a good result despite his role as domestique. But Démare was caught in the crash that took down a fair amount of riders in the final corner with 600 metres to go, so Soupe was right to take matters into his own hands.
"Geoffrey was scared of being given a reprimand, but I'm happy to see him finish so well after having been disappointing last year," said FDJ's directeur sportif Martial Gayant. "Let's hope it will serve as a trigger."
Soupe, a former U23 French champion, nevertheless took two victories in 2011, a stage at the Tropicale Amissa Bongo and another at the Tour d'Alsace. It is his second year as a pro with FDJ, and the first time in a Grand Tour.