Raymond Poulidor, one of the most illustrious runners ever, spent a large part of his life in Saint-Léonard-de-Noblat and was buried in this French town after his death on November 13, 2019. The ninth stage of the 2023 Tour de France started from ‘the house’ of Poulidor, and the organization of the French racealways very careful in this type of detail, honored his figure with a special role of his grandson, Mathieu van der Poel. First thing in the morning, around 9:00, Christian Prudhomme, director of the Tour, went to the cemetery to place a bouquet of flowers on Poulidor’s grave, something similar to what he did a few days ago with Luis Ocaña in Caupenne-d’Armagnac.
Shirts of ‘Merci Poupou’as it was known, abounded this Sunday among the fans and Alpecin, Van der Poel’s team, modified the design of their bicycles and Mathieu’s carried images of his grandfather. He tried to say a few words about his grandfather at the podium to the grandson, but the emotion got the best of him and he could barely speak with a broken voice. As soon as he went down, he was consoled and encouraged by his partner. “It is not something easy for me, all this generates many memories for me”, said Van der Poel, who rarely visits this town after the death of his grandfather four years ago. Despite the fact that he never wore the yellow jersey, Poulidor formed part of the Tour cycling caravan for many years, wearing this jersey and placing the leaders. An emotional day before facing the Puy de Dôme 35 years later.