It didn't look good for Yoann Offredo (Wanty-Gobert) when the Frenchman lost contact with the peloton on the first of seven climbs littered across the 200km trek from Macon to Saint-Etienne on stage 8 of the Tour de France.
Having fallen ill overnight, Offredo crested the climb with fellow illness sufferer Christophe Laporte (Cofidis) at 1:50 with 149km to go. Laporte abandoned, but Offredo soldiered on, fighting to make it to the finish within the time cut.
One day after winning the red dossard of most combative rider, Offredo showed his aggression again at the other end of the race, making it across the finish line 29:44 behind stage winner Thomas de Gendt (Lotto Soudal) and living to fight another day.
"I had to shit all day," Offredo said frankly to France TV. "I was sick all night, like a few members of my staff. I was suffering even in the neutral start, I found myself with Christophe Laporte, I tried to motivate him but he too was empty. Like me, he had nothing left in his legs, he was sick two days ago."
Offredo took heart from the encouragement of the spectators and, eventually, gained some company.
"It was a very, very complicated day because you're thinking a lot. There's someone inside you who says, 'Go ahead, stop, it's okay, it's over, you're far away'. But people always encourage you, even when you're dropped. That's what's great. There was a huge crowd, I got pushed by people. You try to get small resources like that.
"Frankly, the Tour has its extraordinary sides when you attack, you are at the front of the race, but there is this other race, too, this time trial, because you have to arrive within the time cut."
"In the end I found an ally with Lars Bak, we were motivated, I do not know how, but we were motivated."
Earlier this season, Offredo had to overcome a temporary paralysis caused by a crash in the GP de Denain in March, and he says the incident put today's suffering into perspective.
"Two months ago, when I had degressive quadroplegia, I said I would never complain on a bike again. Frankly, I failed a bit because I complained a lot of times, I couldn't take it anymore. I turned myself inside out. I said to myself only one thing: 'Abandoning is out of the question. The Tour may abandon me, but I don't abandon the Tour'."
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