Warren Barguil

Two stage wins in the Vuelta means a remarkable début for Warren Barguil in the pro peloton. This time last year he was an amateur but with a difference as he’d just won the Tour de l’Avenir overall. And the mountains jersey. And the points jersey. And a stage win.

Before this he’d been national champion and first caught the eye of Argos-Shimano managers when they mistook him for a Colombian. Who knows where he’ll go but here’s a quick look at where he’s come from.

Born in October 1991, Barguil is from Hennebont in Brittany, the region of France that pokes west into the Atlantic. It’s a hotbed of cycling where every village seems to have a bike race and where huge crowds gather for the Tour de France every year. His father is amongst these, a former first category rider, the equivalent of today’s elite category. Barguil started cycling on a BMX but switched to the road as a cadet or U-16 U-17 and started winning as a junior with local club AC Lanester.

“He reminds me of Richard Virenque”
Pierre-Yves Chatelon, coach of the French junior team, Vélo Magazine

A comparison to a man whose name rhymes with dopage is not you’d want. But coach Chatelon was paying a real compliment by saying Barguil’s an attacking rider with plenty of character, that he’s not afraid to attack. If you want to know more, you can see what he means in the Vuelta as each stage win has been won à la pédale, by attacking rather than sniping for a surprise. He was French junior champion in 2009.

2010 and on the eve of Paris-Tour Espoirs Warren Barguil had yet to agree a shoe sponsorship

By the end of the 2011 he was a stagiaire with the pro continental Bretagne-Schuller team and was offered a place on the pro team but he decided to stay on as an amateur for one more year, a wise choice for a 19 year old and he told French website Velo101 it was all about building up a base before turning pro. But he was proving able to mix it with the pros, for example winning the final stage of the Tour de l’Avenir.

For 2012 he was a regular on the French U23 national team whilst also riding for the CC Etupes amateur team in eastern France and coached by Julien Pinot, elder brother of FDJ’s Thibaut. By the end of the year he started as a stagiaire with Argos-Shimano and won the Tour de l’Avenir on a team-issue Felt bike.

Turning Pro
The way he was signed is interesting as France’s Vélo Magazine recounts how Christian Guiberteau, one of the managers at Argos-Shimano, was at the Tour de L’Ain in 2011. He followed a breakaway on the Grand Colombier with its 14% slopes he spotted a rider coming across:

He was wearing a white jersey and with his build and his climbing style I thought it was another Colombian
Christian Guiberteau, Argos-Shimano

Only it was Barguil wearing the white jersey as the best young rider in the race. He finished the Tour de l’Ain with this prize ahead of Thibaut Pinot and Romain Bardet and it was more than enough to interest Guiberteau.

The move to the Dutch team was a concern. There are plenty of promising French riders who don’t do well on French teams but a few riders had said their time with the squad didn’t work out, that it was harder to fit in. See Alexandre Geniez for example. But Barguil has obviously thrived and learned English along the way too. Barguil is a climber with his tall frame of 1m83 (6ft for imperialists) and 60kg (132lb) but with a difference in that he’s confident when it comes to a sprint finish but also before as he’s happy to rub shoulders and fight for position. We got a glimpse of this in the Tour of Turkey when he was helping Marcel Kittel win stages as part of their leadout although this meant getting injured during the big crash on Stage 2. He’s done well along the way, fourth in the Rund um Köln and a top-20 finish in the Dauphiné despite having a few health problems.

Sporting Value
Barguil’s success counts a lot for the team. Kittel might be a sprint star but as loyal readers will know, you don’t get many UCI points for a stage win and Argos-Shimano need to rack up more given they sit in a modest 16th place on the current rankings. In other words Barguil’s wins will bring them more points but he can also take crucial points with a high GC placing; not in the Vuelta of course but in other races next year.

The Future
The worry now is that he gets buried under a landslide of media coverage and squashed by pressure. Chance would be a fine thing. The Vuelta barely registers in France so for now Barguil’s media profile is restricted to the cycling media unlike Thibaut Pinot who had to deal with national expectations this year following his Tour de France performance in 2012. It’s easy to imagine the “next Bernard Hinault” label weighing him down given the arithmetic short cut of “Breton” plus “winning cyclist” instantly equates to musteline comparisons. But luckily Barguil doesn’t have to carry the weight of a nation on his back. Thibaut Pinot is there to take some of the load whilst Romain Bardet is seen as France’s biggest prospect by some. But we’ve seen just Alex Geniez win too and FDJ team mate Kenny Elissonde is impressing too. All this is before we think of Bryan Coquard, Arnaud Démare and Nacer Bouhanni to name just three sprinters.

More realistically he’ll be working on his time trialling this winter but hopefully this doesn’t stop him from displaying the headstrong riding that’s been working so well in the Vuelta.

Finally just as he’s had to learn English to talk to his team mates, make sure you know how to say his name.

30 thoughts on “Warren Barguil”

  1. A very gutsy performance today a very confident move towards the end of the stage. Never say die attitude got him his win by a gnats whisker. I hope for the sake of French cycling that they “may” have a future champ on their hands. Early days.

  2. The most impressive part of his victory today was when Uran tried blasting past when he caught up to the leader, but Barguil locked onto the Sky rider and wouldn’t let him go.

    Like a badger.

  3. As a Colombian, I can tell you that we wish he was Colombian :).
    He beat Chamorro last year at tour de l’Avenir by 1 second in the overall and today he beats Uran.
    Colombians are starting to take it personally :). He is a better future GC overall contender to Quintana than Talansky is, IMO. Good future for cycling.

  4. Watched out for him since INRG mentioned him in ‘neo-pro riders to watch’ topic months ago. Also the reason why I watched last L’Avenir stage 2012, where he countered many attacks in an impressive style.
    This Vuelta he started very well till the crash in neutralized zone, losing his Top20 rank. But I guess this gave him the opportunity for this two stage wins later. Both impressive, and today’s was formidable. Not everyone outsprints an Uran on such a finish. Chapeau.

  5. last couple hundred meter is probably too flat for Uran. Besides, Uran was never good in a sprint finish. At least he didn’t make the same looking over the shoulder at the wrong moment mistake again as he did in the Olympic Road finish last year.

    Still, Barguil’s win was impressive. As with Tom earlier, I think the most impressive bit about him is that he actually attached onto Uran rather than letting the latter sail past even though he just had a lot of difficulty moments ago (almost a stand still). If not for that, all his sprinting leg would be useless.

  6. I think Uran should have gone with Barguil when the latter attacked. If he had done that, he would be able to drop the latter some point on the climb.

    Well, easier said than done, especially in hinder sight.

      • Spoilsport – I had a lovely hour there brooding over my conspiracy theories! That stuff on the photo finish equipment is great, thanks. The technology is pretty amazing. Although it still can’t prove a negative. It doesn’t prove that the photo finish guy didn’t fix the print because he’d had a tenner on Barguil for the stage. Or that the photo finish guy isn’t Elvis….

        • Very informative article on the finish line camera last year. Can’t imagine how I missed it, but thanks to Inner Ring all the same.

          I am not sure if the following is relevant to this post. If not, please feel free to move it or delete it.

          I think the finish line camera is still a compromise rather than a exact following of the rule though. It also allows margin to manually manipulate the result.

          Think of the camera as a virtual line traveling from the finish line towards approaching riders. In that sense it is very accurate in determine the relative order of riders within the scan period (time it taken to scan a picture) as the line would hit the rider closer to the finish line first. The problem lies in which scanning period (finish line picture) to use to determine the winner.

          According to the rule, “The finish occurs at the instant that the tyre of the front wheel meets the vertical plane rising from the starting edge of the finishing line”.

          So in theory, they should pick a scan where the scan line hit the tyre of the front wheel of the leading rider just as it hit the starting edge of the black band; in practice, they can’t always catch such a scan. This is why the black band should have a width of 4cm to ensure that even fast finishers like Mark Cavendish would take longer than a scan period to cross that width of the black band and they would at least have a scan where Cav is on the line. But then they still need to digitally draw a red line at the leading edge of Cav’s front wheel tyre to use as the finish line. So in practice, the finish line is not the starting edge of that black band. But rather it is wherever the leading rider’s front tyre leading edge is within the black band when a scan captures it. What they then need to do is making sure that the black band is not so wide that there exists multiple usable scans (leading rider on the black band) with different rider order on them.

          But that still leaves rooms for error. Suppose it takes 0.01 second to do a scan, so we have scans at time stamp 0 second, 0.01 second, 0.02 second and so on. Then suppose leading rider A technically crossed line at time stamp 0.015 second and was over taken at time stamp 0.019 second by rider B. Then rider A would be the winner according to time stamp 0.01 second scan, whilst B would be the winner according to the 0.02 second scan. Sadly for rider A, the time stamp 0.02 second scan is more likely to be used as on the time stamp 0.01 second scan rider A would not have hit the line yet.

          I suppose the practical compromise made in this case is to set the resolution of the images so that it would be impossible to distinguish between rider A & B on that 0.02 second time stamp scan and a draw is announced.

          • the compromise involved is tiny though. I think it’s fair to say that it is the best that can be done (without faster scan rates that still give resolution). Certainly a lot better than some sports- eg sailing, where the finish is purely on human judgement and is typically between two poles pitching about on waves attached to boats or bouys that are moving.

  7. Interesting bit of background.

    “The Vuelta barely registers in France so for now Barguil’s media profile is restricted to the cycling media” – you’re not kidding, I know the weather didn’t help but felt sorry for Geniez yesterday when all of 50 people were at the French finish to cheer the Franchman home (maybe one of those 50 was French?).

  8. Can’t help but bring back memories of Andy Schleck at the Giro in 2007, but with added technical and tactical nous. Pretty sure he was also 21 at the time.

  9. Wow, this guy looks like he has a great future. As was said above it was impressive to see him keep up with Uran when it looked like Uran was going to blast past him for the victory. Smart attacking young rider that will be a GC contender in some of the bigger races soon!!! Very exciting to have a young rider like this on tour.

    Do you think he takes another stage before the end of this years Vuelta???

  10. I’m not sure if anybody’s mentioned this before but thanks for the pronunciation guide on names etc. I sometimes obsess about how to pronounce things correctly in a different language than my own, especially given the bastardisation of names/places from most TV commentators (which are sooo embarrassing sometimes!).

    And on a slightly related subject (i.e. education!) , thanks too for theDaily Díaz from you and Manuel Pérez. Absolutely fascinating stuff(!) which also proved to be really useful when I was on holiday in Galicia last week – although sadly one week after the Vuelta had visited the very same region. Puh 🙁

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