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First Tour de France in 2017

Wanty-Groupe Gobert received a wild card from the organization of the Tour de france in 2017. Guillaume Martin, Frederik Backaert, Thomas Degand, Marco Minnaard, Yoann Offredo, Andrea Pasqualon, Dion Smith, Guilllaume Van Keirsbulck and Pieter Vanspeybrouck were the eight riders defending the colors of the team in our first participation in the biggest cycling race in the world, which was a decisive turning point for our team. It enabled the structure to make a big step forward.

“It is being said that a rider is not a rider until he participates in the Tour de France. This also counts for a team. The Tour changed our lives. The way we rode also. We could build confidence with A.S.O., which already invited us earlier to participate in races such as the Critérium du Dauphiné or Paris-Roubaix. But here, for the Tour de France, we had to man up. And we made it. I remember that I was a little worried after the euphoria about our selection. I was wondering what we were going to do there! We knew that it was a stage race, but what a race of three weeks represented? It was unknown territory. And we also didn’t know about the pressure of the media which is typical for the Tour de France, with thousands of people pushing around the team bus… But Hilaire Van der Schueren immediately reassured us. He said: ‘JF, don’t worry: we will attack when it counts and A.S.O. will be happy.’”

And so it came true from the first stage of the Tour de France 2017, on the second day, after the prologue in Düsseldorf. Frenchman Yoann Offredo led a breakaway between the German city and Liège and conquered the combativity award.

“Seeing one of our riders on the podium of the Tour de France, during the ceremonie protocolaire, that was fantastic. We made a good start. People were talking about us as the nice Belgian team, with friendly boys in interviews, smiling, giving them bidons, … We were proud on our first participation and the fact that we reached Paris with a complete team after three challenging weeks. A great first experience with a couple of good results. For example the third place in a stage for Guillame Martin, who finished 23rd in the final classification.”

After a succesful first Tour de France, the team of Jean-François Bourlart was again invited in 2018 and 2019. The Belgian team again trusted in breakaways and its French climber Guillaume Martin reached twelfth place in the final classification in 2019.

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