Frenchman Bruno Armirail new pink jersey
Bruno Armirail, at the finish of the 14th stage of the Giro, in Cano Magnago (Italy), May 20, 2023. LUCA BETTINI / AFP-PH This is one of the charms of…
This is one of the charms of cycling and of its Grand Tours in particular: from time to time, it honors a team member from the shadows, one of those called gregarios or the water carriers, whose role is usually to shelter a leader from the wind or to fetch him a canister from the back of the peloton. Bruno Armirail is one of them and, on Saturday 20 May, exceptional racing circumstances during the 14e stage of the Tour of Italy propelled him into full light, on the podium, the Giro leader’s pink jersey on his shoulders, under the confetti and a bottle of sparkling wine in his hand.
By slipping into a breakaway of 27 riders who reached the finish more than 21 minutes ahead of the pack of favorites, the 29-year-old Frenchman took the lead in the general clification. The stage, disputed between Sierre and Cano-Magnano (193 kilometers), was won by the German Nico Denz (Bora). Bruno Armirail, 15e on the course of the day, 51 seconds from Denz, is the first Frenchman since Laurent Jalabert, in 1999, to wear the pink jersey of leader of the Tour of Italy.
” I can not believe it “
Awful weather and a profile not conducive to an explanation between favorites (a big climb at the start of the stage followed by 100 kilometers of flat until the finish) played into the hands of the one who, most of the time, is loaded to help its leader Thibaut Pinot. “That wasn’t the plan, recognized Armirail, at the microphone of the organizers of the Giro, once ured of donning the prestigious tunic. The goal was to slip into the breakaway of the day and aim for the stage victory. I was very far from imagining that. From the beginning [du tour d’Italie], I was talking about it with Rudy Mollard [l’un de ses coéquipiers], and we said to ourselves “One day, a breakaway might take 15 minutes”. (…) It is a dream. I can not believe it. »
The native of Bagnères-de-Bigorre (Hautes-Pyrénées), who has not won any professional race apart from a title of French time trial champion in 2022, was 23e in the general clification on the morning of the stage on Saturday, 18 minutes and 37 seconds behind Geraint Thomas. He is now in the lead with 1’41” over the Welshman (2e), winner of the 2018 Tour de France, 1’43” over the Slovenian Primoz Roglic (3e) and 4’54” on its leader, Thibaut Pinot (10e).
If a final victory is hardly possible Armirail in this Tour of Italy, especially given the very mountainous third week that awaits the peloton, it is a great reward for those who achieve a very successful Giro. In addition to playing his role as teammate of Thibaut Pinot, like the day before in the first p, he finished fifth in the second time trial on Sunday May 14.
“Bruno is a very good team player and he proved it again yesterday, commented its sports director Sébastien Joly. Today, Thibaut gave him carte blanche to thank him. We are very happy. It’s been a very long time since a Frenchman wore the pink jersey. In his own way, Bruno is making history. »
Armirail’s mission for the rest of this Tour of Italy should above all consist in helping Pinot to win a stage and to keep the best climber’s jersey. The latter ped very close on Friday during the 13e stage, where the already trying weather had forced the organizers to shorten the route.
Laurent Fignon is the last Frenchman to have won the Tour of Italy, in 1989. He was then the third French rider to win the Giro, after Jacques Anquetil (1960, 1964) and Bernard Hinault (1980, 1982, 1985).