Cyrille Guimard hasn’t lost his touch

Cyrille Guimard

If you enjoy playing one of the several fantasy cycling teams then Cyrille Guimard is a name to remember. He has correctly picked five of the seven stage winners so far in the race.

Now aged 64, the Frenchman had a brief career on the bike, winning 100 races including seven Tour de France stages and also sprint titles on the track and in the 1974 Tour de France, pushing Merckx very close.

Cyrille Script
But he perhaps made more of a name for himself as a directeur sportif, swapping the handlebars for the steering wheel of the Gitane team car at the age of 29 where is first move was to persuade Bernard Hinault to stay with the team. He won the Tour de France with Hinault, as well as Laurent Fignon and Lucien Van Impe. As Van Impe said:

Everything he predicted at the morning briefing came true later in the race

Guimard flew to the US to sign Greg LeMond, even taking English lessons in a bid to make his protégé more at ease. He wasn’t just tactically aware but technical too, for example the first to make use of “low profile” frames for the whole team in time trials. Not everything he did was copied, Guimard often drove the  team car bare-chested, a style that thankfully never caught on.

In time his name was big enough so that when David Millar had the pick of pro teams after a stellar year at the top of the French amateur scene, it was Guimard who convinced Millar to sign for Cofidis. More recently Guimard worked with French amateur team VC Rouxbaix where, in 2004, he was most impressed by a rider called Andy Schleck.

Not that he’s been perfect. Guimard was linked to witchdoctor Bernard Sainz and under his watch Cofidis was a madhouse. He also seemed to fall out regularly with the riders with whom he shared success. Hinault and Fignon in particular learned a lot from Guimard but in time, they couldn’t work with him any longer. Later he set up a bike business that collapsed and he got a criminal conviction for his role in this, leading to Cofidis to distance themselves for him.

Today he’s working for French talk and sport radio station RMC as an expert pundit. He is great to listen to, he still knows his stuff and has a sense of humour to soften his sharp predictions.

Pick of the day
Guimard’s pick for today’s stage is Edwald Boasson Hagen, justified he says by his high finish in the Dauphiné’s mountain stage, his recent weight loss and his ability to win a sprint.

4 thoughts on “Cyrille Guimard hasn’t lost his touch”

  1. After yesterday’s disastrous day for the Sky boys, a win for Fast Eddie would be just the tonic they need.

    On another note, you will be aware of the controversy raging here in the UK around News International and James Murdoch. Given that it’s James who is the mover and shaker behind Sky’s support of British Cycling and the Sky procycling team, I’m beginning to wonder if the entire house of cards is likely to crumble. Thoughts?

  2. HG John: I’ve wondered about Sky in the past but the feedback was that they’re in this for good period of time and want the Olympic glory in Britain, plus using the team as a means to get more people into cycling in Britain, a way to spend some loose corporate change on things to make them look good. Perhaps they need the team more than ever?

    You’ll be aware of the talk of Cavendish going to Sky, but they say its for three years so it suggests the teams has plans to stick around. If things crumble higher up the corporate scale let’s hope the team has contracts in place to secure its funding.

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