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Armel Le Cleac’h: “I have a good feeling’

Published on 08/09/2020

Have you been waiting for this stage victory for seven years? Yes, it's true, the last time I won was in Spain (in Gijon in 2013). I did La Solitaire du Figaro again last year, but it was not so great, I was not far out on the last stage, but it was Eric Péron who won. I'm super happy, it's certainly a seventh stage victory, but above all it's a good stage victory, I am happy with the way it came, it was strategically built and after that, there was the good speed, everything was fine all the way, I am 100% satisfied.

You said this morning that you had recovered the feeling of 2010 when you won three stages and then the overall Solitaire, should we now expect the same this year?

I don’t know, but it is sure that I have good feelings on board, I have the feeling of being in harmony with the boat, with my strategy, but also of being good in terms of speed, an area in which I maybe was not so good on the first leg. I managed to do what I wanted. I positioned myself well and when I took the lead at Eddystone, I was happy with my strategy, it gave me confidence for the future. After that it was not easy as there was not a lot of wind to attack along the English coast, it came back in bit from behind, finally, it started to build again from the front. And there, I hung on, I steered a lot, trying to pull the right gybes, I didn’t necessarily think of marking the others, because that’s often how we get caught, I just managed to press. Passing the A8 buoy, off Antifer last night, I was very happy not to see many people behind. It’s good for morale to win because it’s been a while since a I have had a win for Banque Populaire. There was a very difficult year in 2018 (ed note Ultime broke up on Route du Rhum), last year 2019 was about recovery with Le Figaro. I am in the lead in the overall standings halfway through, so I will continue to work like this, the objective is still the same, which is to take it leg by leg as I have done so far.

Now as leader overall, is your objective more than ever to enter the circle of triple winners of La Solitaire du Figaro?

The objective is to continue to sail well at the front, as I was able to do partly on the first stage, totally on the second. I think there will be a real assessment to be made at the end of the third stage, we will then have a sprint, we will see the general classification and the gaps at that time. Now we are still a long way from Saint-Nazaire which is a stage that promises to be very difficult, we have two stages under our belts now and some little fatigue accumulates. And with the general classification starting to take shape, some will play it a little differently, we will see. I can’t be better placed, but there is still a long way to go.

This third stage looks like a high mountain stage, right?

Yes, it will be the big course in any case, with a lot of traps, the Raz Blanchard, the Raz de Sein, the Chenal de Four, everyone knows these areas well, but these are places that can be complicated. And then a finish into Saint-Nazaire which can be difficult.

You finished 35 minutes ahead of Sam Goodchild, what inspires you?

It’s not bad, I had a little more at one point, it came back a bit from behind, but it’s still good to take. We know that on La Solitaire du Figaro, it can be played very little. There may be a completely decisive stage that will turn everything upside down, we’ll see, but it’s good to take the lead and have a little cushion on your pursuers. I’m very tired, it was a short stage, but I didn’t get much sleep. The first night I was really pushing on deck to try to take the lead at Eddystone, so I have I steered a lot so we’re all going to have to recover.

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