As Primož Roglič (Jumbo-Visma) was in the midst of detailing his Paris-Nice time trial performance to the press atop the little hill where the Gien stage finished, a great roar was heard as another rider crossed the line. Rémi Cavagna, “the Clermont-Ferrand TGV”, had arrived.
The French time trial champion had given all that he had, his yell a final expulsion of energy from his pain-racked body. While Roglič continued talking, Cavagna leaned over the barriers, gathering himself. As the Frenchman took a drink and put on a jacket, Stefan Bissegger (EF Education-Nippo) made his final surge to the line, crossing it eight-tenths of a second quicker than Cavagna had done four minutes before.
Cavagna smiled ruefully and, to his credit, kept smiling as he took his turn in front of the press.
“It’s frustrating. This lost second, I can see it everywhere, especially at the end, when I caught up with a rider before the last turn. I came up a little bit fast on him and had to brake. But that’s cycling. I really enjoyed myself today. It was a great time trial, I’m happy to come back to this discipline in this way,” said the Deceuninck-QuickStep rider.
“I gave it my all right up to the line. I didn’t feel all that great, especially at the early part of the course because I warmed up a little bit early and I was inactive for too long before I started. After that, it went well. I gave it my all, as I always do on this exercise. I work on it every week, I love it and believe that I’m continuing to progress.”
The time trial was Cavagna’s stand-out chance of a stage win at Paris-Nice, but the aggressive Frenchman is hoping that he still might be able to have an impact on the race in the days ahead.
“We’ve got a team that’s built around Sam Bennett, our sprinter, who has already won a stage and who can confirm his status with another sprint victory. We have our Italian who climbs well [Mattia Cattaneo]. Why not help him for the overall classification? And as for me … I want to enjoy myself, show that I can climb also on some stages, get in a breakaway and why not go for a victory.”
We might not have heard the last of the TGV at Paris-Nice yet.