When Alpecin-Fenix was called up during the Tour de France team presentation on Thursday evening, a group of riders in purple and amber took to the stage.
The Belgian team had suddenly changed their look, with a kit inspired by the grandfather of team leader Mathieu van der Poel, Raymond Poulidor.However, they quickly confirmed that the change was only for one night and that they would be racing in their standard navy colors when the race begins on Saturday.
The new kit is a nod to the iconic kit worn by Poulidor within the Mercier team in the 1960s and 1970s. Poulidor, who died in 2019, finished eight times on the Tour podium without winning it, but his quasi-man status has contributed to his status as the most beloved cyclist in France.
His last Tour de France was 45 years ago and now Van der Poel is making his debut, leading him and his team to mark the occasion, with the launch of a charity, MerciPoupou ‘to honor Poulidor’s legacy.
“My grandfather recognized my joy in cycling early on and he always said that David and I were more talented than him. Today I would like him to be there and live this moment with our family, ”said Van der Poel.
“He had dreamed of it for a long time, but I’m sure he’s proud as he always has been. I am delighted that we can pay him a final tribute in such an exciting way and that we can say it all together ‘Thank you Poupou’. “
The jersey will not be worn during the race but is available for purchase, with the proceeds going to an initiative that promotes young cyclists. Click here for details.
Alpecin-Fenix manager Philip Roodhooft added: “We couldn’t pass up this opportunity. 45 years after Raymond Poulidor completed an incredible career, his grandson Mathieu van der Poel is participating for the first time in the Tour de France. It is a unique chance. for Mathieu and the team to pay tribute to his grandfather and to one of the most emblematic riders in the world of cycling.
The fact that our partners support ‘Merci Poupou’ shows their long-term commitment. Alpecin is the most historic cycling sponsor with a 75 year history, while Fenix and Canyon are not just looking for a commercial return on their investment. Above all, they want to support the team and the runners chasing their dreams. Dreams that have their origin in the cycling heritage to which we were all initiated by our own (grand-) parents. “
Poulidor has never managed to wear the yellow jersey during his historic relationship with the Tour, but Van der Poel is fortunate enough to tick that box on Saturday, as the Tour begins with a hard-hitting stage and a finish that should play on his strong points.