Nancy – "Julian, to Paris!" Encouragement is pouring in from all sides: the yellow jersey Julian Alaphilippe seduces more than ever the tricolor of the Tour by its panache and its character, a popularity increased tenfold by the wearing of the mythical tunic, that no other French has endorsed since 2014 .
From Reims, a few hours before what was going to beone of the most beautiful days of his (his) career"The new yellow jersey was waiting." Amassée in front of the Deceuninck team bus, the crowd held their breath for a long time on Tuesday morning, ready to explode every time they saw through the side door of the vehicle. , the bright yellow socks of his whooping cough cross the vehicle.
"alaf '"only appeared a few minutes before the end of the traditional pre-stage signing, wide smile, tunic, helmet and yellow mittens well dressed, face awake despite the seven or eight bottles of champagne that Deceuninck team slips have opened Monday night around 22:30 to celebrate the victory of the day.
"Bravo!","you're a champion!","until Paris!": a logical clamor, and a dense escort of fans, journalists and staff members accompanied him to the podium, where he was able to quickly get an idea of the atmosphere that will await him on each of the steps that it will start with this golden fabric on the back. "I had never experienced this", he will say in the evening."It's another world".
Blocked by the security barriers, Evan and his mother Valerie failed to make their way to approach the hero. "He will never come to me", is saddened the young boy who took the train early in the morning about thirty kilometers away to see his"favorite runner"who impressed him the day before by his"speed"and"his ability to attack in one fell swoop"to go for the stage victory.
On the course Champagne and Lorraine of the 4th stage, from Reims to Nancy, the yellow is appropriate, between balloons, jerseys, caps. "Julian, what a panache!", we read in capital letters on the right of the road leaving the village of Lavallée (Meuse), on a large sign where are drawn … peas.
It certainly dated from last year – he had brought back to Paris the jersey polka dots after two prestigious victories in the Alps and the Pyrenees – because it is well dressed yellow that the 27-year-old puncher engulfed the 213 , 5 kilometers of the day, in "enjoying every kilometer", and even finishing the kilometer by offering a welcome help for the sprint to Elia Viviani, winner in Nancy and warmly congratulated on the line by her yellow teammate jersey.
– Rarely in France –
This color, it changes everything for the public: "It's the only jersey we remember", says one of his former carriers, Bernard Thevenet.People, they do not remember that Thomas Voeckler wore the champion jersey of France, they remember his days in yellow."
"What also seduces the audience enormously is its panache", adds Voeckler, a connoisseur – he wore the yellow jersey twice ten days, in 2004 and 2011. And also"its natural, the sporty level that it is able to have while remaining accessible and smiling, joker, but hyper professional", continues the new manager of the France team.
Alaphilippe, a resident of a foreign team, also cultivates his legend by its rarity: he has played only one race in France this season (the Dauphiné) before the Tour. A few days before the Grand Départ, the one who calls himself "Alafpolak"on Twitter had also emphasized this aspect, sharing his frustration and his desire to reconnect with his own.
"I felt the difference from the encouragement I usually receive", he savored Tuesday.I heard my name every ten seconds!", he added, evoking sensations"difficult to explain."He has at least another day left to try to understand them.