Warren Barguil won the French road race championships on Sunday, and admitted that he had thought about quitting the sport after a difficult last couple of seasons. Now, the 27-year-old leader of the Arkéa-Samsic squad will wear his national champion's jersey at the Tour de France when the race kicks off in Brussels, Belgium, on Saturday.
Barguil said after his win that there was no feeling of 'revenge' at having found success again.
"I think there are cycles in cycling. I'm not superhuman. I've just been through a tough period, but it's not revenge. I've always had these legs; I just had to find them again, just like I had to find my morale again. I'm very happy with myself," he said on his team's website after his Nationals road race win.
While riding for Team Sunweb, Barguil won the 'king of the mountains' jersey and two stages, as well as finishing 10th overall, at the 2017 Tour, and then joined his current team – then known as Fortuneo-Samsic – for 2018.
With the change came a downturn in form and an increase in bad luck, with various crashes coming the Frenchman's way over the following two seasons. He has only recently returned to racing after crashing out on the final stage of the Volta a Catalunya in Barcelona, Spain, at the end of March, breaking his pelvis in the process.
"It's not been easy," Barguil continued. "There have been times when I've wanted to quit cycling, but my wife has supported me a lot and I didn't give up. I think that it's life: there are tough moments and very good moments, and I understand that the thing is to not give up. I thank my wife, my family and my team who all helped me through this. I told myself that if I quit cycling, I might come to regret it a week later, and for my whole life."
The men's French road race championships had been won by a Groupama-FDJ rider for the past three seasons, and so to take the iconic red, white and blue jersey home to a Pro Continental team, which gained selection for this year's Tour thanks to one of four 'wildcard' invitations, is also something special.
"Tomorrow [Monday] I'm going on a recovery ride in the jersey," Barguil admitted. "I'm super proud. It's hard to think of myself with this jersey at the Tour. It's incredible.
"My goal will be to chase stage wins, but by being more intelligent than I was last year, when I threw some chances away," he added. "I'll try to be cleverer and to not do too much. This jersey doesn't put pressure on me; it's pure passion. The pressure comes during training, when I'll be doing everything I can to be ready for the Tour de France."