Two short seconds. This is what Thomas Bonnet lacked to hope to dethrone Mathis Le Berre (Côtes d’Armor-Marie Morin-U), who had taken first place overall in the Tour of Normandy, from day one to last. The Vendée U driver had to settle for the second step of the podium as he came close to winning the stage twice. Although he leaves Normandy empty-handed, the 23-year-old is still happy with his week and sees good continuity in his very good start to the season, finishing 2nd in the BBB-DirectVelo Challenge. Thomas Bonnet is back DirectVelo a week in Normandy before moving on to the next big meeting this weekend at Boucle de l’Artois, the N1 round of the French Cup.
DirectVelo: What’s the flavor of this second place in Normandy?
Thomas Bonnet: It means a lot, a week from start to finish. It is also the work of a team that was very close-knit. This is a great satisfaction. I did not come with such ambitions in terms of the overall standings. You won’t go far to win a stage. This was my goal. The idea was to play a general and get closer to success. For two seconds it didn’t matter much. But I’m happy, we’ve had great results, now heading to the Coupe de France before we ease the pressure a bit.
Was there a way to get those two small seconds?
Approaching the final track at the last stage, I planned to do a sprint, I could not do the last bonus. I had a mechanical problem when approaching the track, I had repetitive chain jumps, I couldn’t sprint anymore. I couldn’t change my bike, it was no longer the time. So I changed my mind and secured 2nd place with Emilien (Janier). I saw that it was difficult with the chain. I didn’t want to risk killing myself in the sprint, I didn’t.
“I ALMOST COULD GET A DOUBLE HIT”
You already excelled in Guadeloupe last year, but at a lower level. Have you caught yourself playing ahead every day for a week?
Yes, because it was something other than Guadeloupe. It was not the same class between Normandy and Guadeloupe, without offending, of course. There were a lot of conti, plus big ones. Playing as a general, attacking almost every day, I was under pressure every step of the way to get it right and not miss anything. Nervously I left juice in it, it was a long week because of it. I had less freedom to do what I wanted, I had to be vigilant. It was a bit new, I don’t consider myself a general, but it’s normal that there was no timer (smiles). It was a great experience, I was able to show that I am an actor and strong. I’m not a sprinter, but I jumped at every opportunity to make a difference.
You achieved two stage podiums in addition to that 2nd place overall. Do you have a bit of a bitter taste to walk away without a win?
I would have preferred not to win anything and win in the overall standings, and not in the stage. But I could almost double down. I was a little hungry making 2nd causing a winning move (at the third stage, approx. ed. – read here), because I start a little earlier in unfavorable wind, while in the sprint I was strong. Plays a little. The black spot for the whole week is a moment. But I am learning from him for the future. It’s not very bad.
“WE DO NOT GET CZECHEN IN TWO-THREE DAYS, ESPECIALLY NERVOUSLY”
How are you doing this week between Normandy and Artois?
In any case, preparations have already been made. You must manage the communication between them. Know how to recover without letting go of too much to get back on track. I’m still in Normandy juice, but you won’t get cherries in two or three days, especially nervously. I still need a good night before Friday’s time trial. Physically, everything is in order, for the nervous side, one or two calm days are enough for me and there will be no problems. In a week, the clock will go by itself, then there will be only two days left. Then there will be relaxation behind.
What do you expect from this weekend in Artois?
With this week of Normandy, I will not relax. I will definitely be one of the favourites, I will be followed a bit, but we also have very good cards with Antoine (Devanne) who will put in a very good time. He is the specialist of the team, which means that if we need to be there, we will, and if I have the opportunity to win the stage … The intervals after the stopwatch may not be large, they can be seen. Watches are not my specialty, so I will not be in the forefront and watch from Saturday, I have less pressure.
“TWO GOOD WEEKS TO RECOVER FROM ALL THESE”
Will the clock draw the trend of the weekend in the team?
We have several cards, it turns out. Following the time of Antoine we will see depending on the weather conditions in particular. If the disagreement continues, I think there will be no photo with the rest of the team. Then we will try to consolidate around him and see how things go over the weekend.
Although you are not at ease in the time trial, have you prepared for the exercise?
I was able to ride a little this Wednesday morning, just a little ride for the feel. I’m going to enjoy the weekend. We will try to secure the first place. I go there for pleasure, to work hard for 25 minutes, it will be good. And then the weekend is over, Sunday is the most suitable for me, with the most difficult stage.
You’ve been doing well since the beginning of the season, aren’t you afraid of failure?
After Artois, it will not necessarily be a big break, but just a period of relaxation. Which, by the way, will only benefit. It is on this boulder, with the release behind him, that he does not immediately make a big sequel. I’ll have a good two weeks to recover from all this.