|Pierre ROLLAND||Bryan COQUARD||Romain SICARD||Cyril GAUTIER||ANGÉLO TULIK||Yohann GENE||Thomas VOECKLER||BRYAN NAULLEAU||Perrig QUEMENEUR|
With fifteen thrill-filled participations, each summer Jean-René Bernaudeau’s team never leaves the watching public indifferent. It is the team with the strongest regional roots, in the county of Vendée, which has welcomed four Grand Starts of Le Tour over the last eighteen years. Founded under the moniker Bonjour just after the prologue won by Lance Armstrong in 1999, it genuinely started to excel on its second attempt, defending the Yellow Jersey worn by François Simon from the Alps to the Pyrenees. At the time, the challenge was to prove that French riders could also shine despite the ascendancy of the American’s domination.
Having renamed his team La Boulangère following an economic bail-out by a local firm, the “gypsy of the bocage” found his holy grail in 2004. One week before the start of Le Tour, the first French championship title won by Thomas Voeckler was not only something of a miracle, but it announced an adventure of ten days in yellow, which in turn was followed seven years later by a second exploit, this time in the colours of Europcar, but still as part of the same structure, despite regular upheavals due to internal tension and uncertainty about the future.
Curiously, the team had to wait for its seventh participation, under the name of Bouygues Telecom, before JR and his boys won their first stage, thanks to Pierrick Fédrigo, at Gap, in 2006. Europcar hit the jackpot when they took over the sponsorship, at the last minute, in late 2010. With Voeckler in the Yellow Jersey, Rolland in the White Jersey after Charteau in the Polka Dot Jersey the year before, then Voeckler in the Polka Dot Jersey and Rolland again in the top 10 (8th) in 2012, Rolland attacking incessantly and often wearing the Polka Dot Jersey in 2013, the Vendée fairy-tale continued, enhanced last year by the introduction, alongside the traditional leaders of breakaways, of the first sprinter of its glory years, Bryan Coquard.
Stage victories: 9
- 2006: Pierrick Fédrigo at Gap
- 2009: Thomas Voeckler at Perpignan and Pierrick Fédrigo at Tarbes
- 2010: Thomas Voeckler at Bagnères-de-Luchon and Pierrick Fédrigo at Pau
- 2011: Pierre Rolland at Alpe d’Huez
- 2012: Thomas Voeckler at Bellegarde-sur-Valserine and Bagnères-de-Luchon, Pierre Rolland at La Toussuire
Victories in secondary classifications: 3
- 2010: Anthony Charteau (best climber)
- 2011: Pierre Rolland (best young rider)
- 2012: Thomas Voeckler (best climber)
Yellow Jerseys: 23
- 2001: François Simon, three days
- 2004: Thomas Voeckler, ten days
- 2011: Thomas Voeckler, ten days
20: the number of days spent wearing the Yellow Jersey by Thomas Voeckler, in two separate episodes of equal length.
29th July 2001: François Simon finishes 6th on the Tour de France after having worn the Yellow Jersey for three days following a successful breakaway.
8th July 2004: French champion Thomas Voeckler is part of a breakaway on the way to Chartres and picks up the Yellow Jersey, keeping it for ten days, in the middle of Lance Armstrong’s period of domination.
22nd July 2011: Pierre Rolland, the best young rider on Le Tour, beats Alberto Contador and Olympic Champion Samuel Sanchez, to become the first French rider to win at Alpe d’Huez since Bernard Hinault in 1986.