Last week Stéphane Goubert of AG2R – La Mondiale hung up his cleats after 16 years, and 400,000km, as a professional rider. Now a few of you may be trying to put a face to that name. So here’s his picture.
I only mention him because he typifies the hardworking riders in the peloton. To be honest, even I would be hard pressed to identify him out of cycling gear or even recall his palmares.
L’Equipe wrote a short piece, on the eve of his last race, Paris-Bourges, calling him “l’homme sans victoire”. That’s right he’s never won a professional race apart from the team time-trial in the 2005 Tour of Castille-Leon. In fact, his last individual victory was in 1993 while still riding as an amateur. Incredible as this may sound, very few riders win races. It’s a team sport and the team is committed to helping its leader win, so if you’re not the team leader, then….
Naturally, riders like Goubert are much prized by teams. I do recall he worked tirelessly, in this year’s Tour de France, in defence of his team mate’s yellow jersey, earning for himself, in the process, his best ever finish in the Tour: 16th. He also finished 3rd in the Dauphine libéré stage into Briançon. So, he leaves the peloton on a high, having enjoyed one of his most successful years. I’ve no idea of his future plans, but I wish him well in his new endeavours. By the way, he finished 81st in Paris-Bourges.
Ag2R’s performance in this year’s Tour de France probably hoisted them in the league table above the soon-to-be-relegated teams of Bbox and Cofidis. Coincidentally, Ag2R commissioned an independent report on the value of their sponsorship during the Tour and the response was Euros 60 million worth of advertising. Not bad for an investment of Euros 8 million. Money well spent.