Europcar's Bryan Coquard was once again knocking on the door of victory during stage 3 at the Tour de France. The Frenchman added another fourth place to his results in the rain-affected sprint in London.
Coquard is making his debut at this year’s race and takes encouragement from being able to mix it with the big guys. “It was a nice finish and fourth place, it’s not bad. I couldn’t sprint at 100 per cent because I couldn’t find an opening until late but it’s encouraging for what’s to come,” he said at the finish.
The result didn’t come easy for Coquard, who had to fight from a long way out to get back into the bunch. “I made an error in the Olympic Park. I took a cycle path where there were people blocking it at the end, so I lost time and energy. With the rain, you could feel your tyres slipping at times. It was really on the limit.
“Another rider in the finishing straight would have been nice but that’s how it is, my teammates did a lot of work for me before that. I was on Kittel’s wheel in the final kilometre but I lost my place to Sagan. I was on the limit of slipping and he managed to get in there because he was going quicker. He’s really impressive in his bike handling.”
Coquard has demonstrated his own impressive bike handling skills on a few occasions at this year’s Tour de France. On stage 1, he showed the tremendous skills he has developed in his time on the track, where the riders are used to riding without brakes. They came in handy on stage 3 too, as the slick roads made the build-up to the sprint particularly treacherous.
“It was really a war, there was a lot of contact and jostling,” he explained. “The rain made things a bit more complicated again, and made it more of a war. The person who braked last was going to get through the corner in front, and he would manage to get the wheel he wanted. You really had to see it to believe it."
Coquard will have another shot at victory in Tuesday's stage to Lille. It’s not just a stage win that he’s looking for, he has his eyes set on Peter Sagan’s green jersey lead. Coquard is third in the classification at the moment, 29 points behind Sagan, and he’s going to do his best to close the gap.
“I’ll fight to the end for the green jersey, even if Peter Sagan will be very hard to beat.”