With just three stages left in the 2019 Tour de France Team Wanty Gobert continues to surprise with consistent performances by climber Guillaume Martin and all-rounder Xandro Meurisse.
By
Cycling Central

26 Jul 2019 - 11:15 AM  UPDATED 26 Jul 2019 - 11:26 AM

As a Pro-Continental outfit, the team has always relied on wild cards to make the Tour and it continues to justify selection by featuring regularly in the breaks and delivering solid performances over the 21 stages.

Despite not having a big budget to match the WorldTour teams, this year is perhaps their best with the Frenchman [Martin] and Belgian [Meurisse] delivering a 'bang for the buck' performance that should earn the team another invite in 2020. 

After finishing 23rd in 2017 and 21st last year, Martin's career progression is clear - now sitting in 13th position at 15min 11sec and with a not so long shot of making the top-10.

At the moment, Martin is a small piece in the broader resurgence of French cycling which now has a high performing generational cohort including Tour leader Julian Alaphilippe (Deceuninck-Quick Step), Stage 14 winner Thibaut Pinot (Groupama-FDJ), mountains classification leader Romain Bardet (AG2R) and Warren Barguil Arkea-Samsic) making all the headlines.

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Martin may be overshadowed but that could soon change. The rumour mill has him leaving Wanty-Gobert for a beefed-up Cofidis, which is set to take a step up to the WorldTour in 2020. But the 26-year-old has more than paid Wanty-Gobert back with yet another high-quality ride and a place among the best at this year's Tour.

Despite Wanty-Gobert lacking the supporting firepower seen on teams like Ineos, Martin has diligently followed the wheels of the better teams while riding within his capabilities.

"I tried to be part of the early breakaway, but in the end, I didn't succeed," he said of his performance on Stage 18, won by Nairo Quintana (Movistar).

"I spent a lot of energy, but thanks to good legs, I was able to follow the favourites for a long time. I'm satisfied with my first stage in the Alps, except for an error in the downhill. Everybody is getting tired, but two more hard days are awaiting us. The Tour is far from finished."

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Tadej POGAČAR
Tadej
POGAČAR
Mark CAVENDISH
Mark
CAVENDISH
Tadej POGAČAR
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Tadej POGAČAR
Tadej
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His plans for the two remaining mountain stages remain pretty much the same, try his best and hope for some lightning to strike.

"I'm going to have the same mentality as I did in the Pyrenees and try to attack but you have to do more than just want it you need a bit of luck to get in the right breakaway and you have to have the legs but anyway that's the idea," he said.

Despite being in control of his abilities, Martin is not without ambition, with the carrot of a top-ten

"I'm still in the mix for a place somewhere between 10 and 15th which is still something on the Tour de France and it will be a shame not to keep one eye on the GC. but at the same time that's not going to stop me taking risks to try and get a stage victory."

Xandro-Meurisse before Stage 18 of the Tour de France.

Tour debutant Meurisse (27) is perhaps a different rider to Martin, more a rouleur than climber, his performance would have to be a happy surprise for himself and Wanty-Gobert despite falling four places overnight to 17th overall after a 50km solo slog.

"I had a hard day today, even if I didn't feel bad, because I was alone after the descent of the Col de l'Izoard," he said.

"I've ridden on my own from Briançon to the finish in Valloire. There was a headwind in the valley and the large roads of Col du Lautaret were not in my advantage.

"I had no other choice than continuing to go full, with the general classification in mind. It's a pity that I wasn't part of a group, I hope I limited the damage."

For a team like Wanty-Gobert a stage win at the Tour would no doubt be the pinnacle but placing two riders in the top-20 would be an unexpected achievement, one that could also be counted as a victory for the little guys.