In Flanders, cycling is sacred. For every road, there is a bike route running right alongside it. So, what better tribute to this region's culture of cycling than the Tour of Flanders?
Jérôme Cousin played the starring role in the first great escape of the Tour de France 2020: a 180-km breakaway – first with two other riders and then in solitude – during the third stage of the Tour, from Nice to Sisteron.
His feat was put to an end 16 km from the finish line, but Cousin’s unmistakable shape, unlike the classic physiognomy of the professional racer, remains impressed on all our minds long after the epilogue at the Champs Elysees. It’s likely his cycling philosophy, very similar to that of a cycling tourist, that makes him so memorable.
“Even during a major stage race, I get a lot of pleasure in discovering new landscapes, new regions and new countries. I really love these emotions.”
So, it’s understandable that, following the Tour de France, Jérôme Cousin, member of the Total Direct Energie team, embarked on an adventure that’s atypical in the field of professional cycling: cycling across Portugal alone, from north to south, along the N2 – National Road 2 – better known as Portugual’s Route 66.
“I did it because the distance of over 700 km that I travelled, alternating between a focus on performance and the pleasure of discovery, will undoubtedly be very helpful in preparing for the 2021 season.”
The N2 is a source of stories and passion for all kinds of travellers. It’s one of the longest roads in the world, crossing Portugal from Chaves, just south of the Spanish border, to the famous Cathedral of Faro, in the Algarve, overlooking the Gulf of Cadiz. Along the way, travellers discover extraordinary UNESCO World Heritage sites such as the Upper Duoro Valley, dotted with vineyards, and Alentejo, one of Portugal’s best hidden gems, just before they reach the Algarve.
“Cycling the N2—but really any road—helps break down cultural and language barriers and lets you discover things that you wouldn’t otherwise notice. I really believe that cycling tourism is the new frontier in what we call ‘travel’. Even for people like me who ride professionally.”
All this helps explain why Jérôme Cousin is surrounded by a special aura in the group, though he does say: “There’s no doubt that I love racing with my Total Direct Energie team mates, but this is also part of my passion for cycling.”
So, it’s safe to say that there’s a bicycle philosopher pedalling in the peloton, who just happens to ride a Wilier 0 SLR on the roads of the Tour de France and the N2 in Portugal.
THE BIKE OF THIS ARTICLE
Wilier 0 SLR – Admiral Blue
Wilier 0 SLR is the first ultra-lightweight racing bike with disc brakes and fully integrated cables.
Wilier 0 SLR encapsulates the most complex concepts of lightness and total integration in simple aesthetics. These are the features the most demanding cyclists seek in the most technologically advanced racing bikes: ultra lightweightedness, high-speed stability and control, braking performance, electronic transmission, high aerodynamics and full cable integration.All condensed in Wilier’s unmistakable style.