In Normandy, Guillaume Martin rebuilds a hamlet and reinvents his career as a professional cyclist

When they get lost in the woods, or pretend to get lost, in this fence-less area, visitors place their sticks against the old walls of a guard tower and question a worker who is restoring the walls with their bare hands: “Is this where the cyclist Guillaume Martin lives? » The mason responds: ” It’s me. » He has black nails, a half-shaggy face, a cloud of happiness raining down on him. At 30 years old, the Norman is, at the beginning of April, the best active French runner in the world ranking (38th) – the young retiree Thibaut Pinot still occupies 21st place – far from the Slovenian Tadej Pogacar, who occupies the lead, but ahead the French champion Valentin Madouas (40th) and the highly coveted prodigy Lenny Martinez (52nd).

Guillaume Martin, on the La Boderie estate, in Sainte-Honorine-la-Chardonne (Orne), March 30, 2024. LOUISE QUIGNON/HANS LUCAS FOR “THE WORLD”

Cyclist, writer, Martin is now also a builder… It is therefore there, in this 16th century tower, that the leader of the Cofidis team sharpens his body, before the French events this week (Classic Grand Besançon Doubs Friday 12 April, Tour du Jura Saturday, Tour du Doubs Sunday) and the Belgian classics the following (Flèche wallonne and Liège-Bastogne-Liège).

There is another entrance to this estate, protected by a porch and a row of cider apple trees. At the end of the driveway, a Norman manor house with heavy doors. The center of the 12-hectare hamlet owned and restored by the Martin family, ruin by ruin and bramble by bramble. They are the only inhabitants, with visitors from the outbuildings transformed into gîtes, at a place called La Boderie, in Sainte-Honorine-la-Chardonne (Orne). Guillaume Martin, the son, receives guests at the manor. The trophies of his exploits were stored in the elixir cabinet. His next manuscript for Grasset editions sleeps between two big black cats.

“A form of weariness”

He drinks a cup of hot verbena, and admits: “I am at the end of a transition period, which could have been delicate. It is painful to realize that we are no longer a young leader, but I am also experiencing the moment where I can calmly consider the rest of my life as a runner. » The thirty-year-old looks back to the past, “in the eternal quest for the sensations of [son] carrier start “. He is also preparing his objectives, such as the Tour de France, where he was 8th in 2021 and 10th in 2023, and the Tour of Spain, where he received the best climber jersey in 2020.

Read also: Tour de France 2020: Guillaume Martin, a glimmer in the night

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This moment ” painful “ faded away on March 24 in the streets of Barcelona, ​​when he finished third in a sprint in the Tour of Catalonia, normally familiar with the mountains. That day, he stuck to the rhythm of Tadej Pogacar. “This is my new beginning”, says Guillaume Martin, who comes out of three seasons of questions. His results, which made him a sure bet in the French peloton, a reliable man, regular in the highest level races, hid from the public what tormented him from the inside.

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2024-04-12 05:00:10
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