Who is Laurent Gina, the mysterious rider at the 2023 Tour de France?

The Frenchman is omnipresent at this year's race

A fan at the Tour de France holding a sign that says Allez Laurent Gina
(Image credit: Future)

There’s a new rider’s name on everyone’s lips at this year’s Tour de France

His name is scribed on square cardboard signs along the race route. They’re signs of encouragement, wielded by the eager French public. “Allez Laurent Gina,” they read. The fans chant the scripture. But who is Laurent Gina? 

A scan of the start list proves fruitless. Gina’s name is not there. There’s only one Laurent - Laurent Pichon, Arkéa-Samsic’s proud Breton and serial winner of piglets, but no mention of Gina anywhere. 

On the outskirts of the motor racing circuit in Nogaro, the scene of stage four’s finale, a moustached man strains as he shouts Gina’s name into the air. Asked who the mysterious rider is, he responds with three simple words. “Allez Laurent Gina!” 

The answer does not suffice. Who does he ride for? “Cofidis,” he snaps back, amazed at the idiocy of such a question. “He’s a sprinter.” The fan’s fervour then calms, and the truth starts to come out. “Nah, they gave us these signs,” he says. Who? “Orangina.” 

Laurent Gina. Orangina. 

Suddenly the mental clouds clear, and confusion turns to embarrassment. Gina does not exist. He is a marketing ploy, strategised and stretched the length of the route by the Tour’s official drinks supplier, new to this year’s race, and determined to make its presence known. 

When the Tour announced its deal with Orangina in February, the drink brand’s commercial director, Arnaud Jobard, knew there were opportunities to be had. 

"With the Tour de France, Orangina reasserts its aspiration to come closer to consumers through emotion, through the love of French people for this event, which is part of our cultural and sporting heritage,” Jobard said. “For our retail clients, this is an incredible opportunity to drum up support for the brand at the point of sale.”

And drum up support they have. On the long road to Paris, fans are screaming for Orangina, buying into the smart piece of commercial word play. It comes in a similar vein to the well-loved “Allez Alain Philippe” gag, created by a French Twitter user to rally around the two-time world champion Julian Alaphilippe

Now, though, there’s a new Frenchman in town - Laurent Gina - and his name’s on everyone’s lips.  

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