Winner of his first stage race, how far will Axel Laurance go?

Winner of his first stage race, how far will Axel Laurance go?
Winner of his first stage race, how far will Axel Laurance go?

Until then, his only success in the general classification of a stage race dates back to his first season in the junior category. At Penn-ar-Bed 2018 where the one who wore the colors of Véloce Vannetais at the time was the most consistent in the Pays d’Iroise, there, at the very end of Finistère. Axel Laurance was not yet 17 years old.

Fifth victory

Since then, the native of Lorient, who came to cycling via the BMX tracks and cyclo-cross circuits, has clearly charted his path: becoming a professional in January 2022 within the B & B Hotels training with whom he signed his first highlights (2nd in the Bretagne Classic in Plouay behind Van Aert, stage success at the Tour of Croatia), the 2022 U23 world champion won his fifth victory among the elite on Sunday. The fourth of the year in racing (after a stage of the Etoile de Bessèges in front of Pedersen, a stage of the Tour of Catalonia in the WorldTour and the 2nd stage of this Tour of Norway). The first in a stage race, therefore.

“I had never had the opportunity to fight to keep a leader’s jersey before, I managed to manage the situation. From now on, I know that I am capable of it,” confides the Morbihannais from Cléguer (near Plouay) who raised another barrier in Scandinavia during the queen stage and its very muscular finale (5.5 km at 8, 7%). “I did it to the fullest, I just wanted to test myself, even if it meant exploding. I surprised myself. It’s interesting for the future,” confides the man who, from his first season in the Alpecin first team, revealed himself at a high level.

Tour de Suisse yes, Tour de France without doubt

“Last winter, I felt that I had reached a plateau. Now I feel more solid in the bumps, I can play up front. Winning quickly gave me confidence and doing the biggest races on the calendar (he competed in Milan-San Remo and the Tour of Flanders and Liège-Bastogne-Liège) brought me a lot. Anyway, I always said that what interested me in cycling was winning races. You can make 25 runners-up finishes in your season, if you don’t win… In Catalonia, for example, when I saw the finish line, I said to myself how impossible it was to come 2nd or 3rd. I am asserting myself at another level even if I know that I still have steps to climb,” adds the son of Franck (former pro) and Manuella (former junior Brittany champion), little brother of Typhaine (former champion of France) now looked at with a different eye in the international peloton. (“Everyone knows I have a big start, everyone wants to take my wheel”). Inside his own team, Axel Laurance has also changed status. The Morbihan puncher has gained ground: he will have carte blanche in the next Tour de Suisse (his next competition after an altitude course in La Plagne) and should accompany the shock duo Mathieu van der Poel – Jasper Philipsen during the next Tour of France. “Let’s say it’s on the right track,” he smiles. “I really want to go, I think I can be useful.”

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