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Tour de France rookie Bonnamour was on his way to sixth-place on the longest stage of the race in what was one of his repeated rides at the front of the action.
Two weeks later, the Team B&B Hotels hotshot was awarded the prize for “most combative rider” of the Tour after Saturday’s time trial – suitable reward for four top-10 finishes and some 900km at the front of the race.
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Bonamour received the most votes from a jury and the public to top an all-star shortlist that included Van Aert, Mohorič, Julian Alaphilippe, Wout Poels and Nils Politt. He will be handed his trophy in Paris on Sunday.
On l'a fait ! 🤩🥳
A demain sur les Champs 👋 https://t.co/XmYfWLloPV
— Franck Bonnamour (@FranckBonnamour) July 17, 2021
“If I had been told before the Tour that I would be on the Champs-Élysées podium, I would not have believed it,” Bonnamour said Saturday. “I came to the Tour to discover, to do beautiful things, I put my heart into the work, and here I am rewarded. I spent three very intense weeks, having a lot of fun in Brittany, at home, then wherever I went on the attack.”
Bonnamour was six times in the break, five of which went to the line in a Tour de France characterized by its off-kilter, aggressive racing.
“He’s a warrior on the bike, a rider who never lets go,” said Yvon Caer, director of Bonnamour’s former Arkéa-Samsic team.
The Breton thrived on all terrains, clocking top-10s both on the Tignes summit finish and the Andorran “Queen Stage,” while landing 6th and 5th in the super-aggressive breakaways of stages 7 and 13. Bonnamour’s 22nd-place classification finish also makes him the highest-placed rider not racing with a WorldTour team.
Is Bonnamour set to follow in the footsteps of former combativity prize winners Romain Bardet (2015), Warren Barguil (2017), and Alaphilippe (2019) by being heralded as the “next big thing of French cycling?”
Les supporters sont là @FranckBonnamour 💪
— B&B HOTELS – KTM (@BBHOTELS_KTM) July 1, 2021
Bonnamour is signed to his second-tier B&B Hotels squad through 2022. If he continues the meteoric progress he charted through the last three weeks, a step to the WorldTour must be on the cards soon after that.
And after only turning 26 last month, Bonnamour has a lot of life left in his legs.
“I have taken a step forward and I now know at what level I can evolve,” Bonnamour said Saturday. “I didn’t think I was capable of being in contact with the riders I encountered in the end of certain stages. Today, it is no longer a surprise for me to find myself at their side. I still hope to improve and win a good race one day.”
Bonnamour has still yet to clock his first pro victory. That could change soon.