Lilian Calmejane: ‘I started cycling admiring Thomas Voeckler and now I get to share this moment with him’

Frenchman takes solo victory on Tour de France stage eight

LIlian Camejane on stage eight of the 2017 Tour de France
(Image credit: Yuzuru Sunada)

Thomas Voeckler might be the Direct Energie rider that every French fan wants to see taste victory at the 2017 Tour de France, but Lilian Calmejane may have taken his first steps in taking over the mantle of French favourite from his boyhood hero on stage eight.

Calmejane produced a heroic ride, battling through cramps in the final 10km, to take his first Tour victory in a style that Voeckler would have been proud of.

>>> LIlian Calmejane takes breakaway victory on fast and hectic Tour de France stage eight

Resplendant in his polka dot jersey as he spoke to press after the stage, Calmejane spoke about how he had grown up watching Voeckler race, and now found himself riding the Tour de France on the same team.

“The year I started cycling was in 2004, which was the year that Thomas Voecker had his first yellow jersey,” the 24-year-old said.

“Now that I know Thomas I have a lot of respect for him and he has helped me a lot in my first years as a professional.

“I started cycling admiring Thomas Voeckler and now I get to share this moment with him.”

>>> Five talking points from stage eight of the Tour de France

Calmejane escaped on the final first category climb, but suffered from cramps on the rolling run towards the line in Station des Rousses. Thankfully for the Frenchman, he’d had experience of dealing with cramps in a race last year.

“I rarely suffer from cramps,” Calmejane continued, “but I had them at the Tour de l’Ain.

“Between six and four kilometres to go I though about what happened at the Tour de l’Ain and put it in a smaller gear. I’m glad I had the same problem before because if I had stayed in the big gear today I probably would have stopped.”

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Henry Robertshaw began his time at Cycling Weekly working with the tech team, writing reviews, buying guides and appearing in videos advising on how to dress for the seasons. He later moved over to the news team, where his work focused on the professional peloton as well as legislation and provision for cycling. He's since moved his career in a new direction, with a role at the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs.