Christophe Laporte: I didn’t waste time at Cofidis but I made a great career choice
Christophe Laporte had a dream come true after winning Gent-Wevelgem, but he was not disappointed that his path to a first major Clasico was heavily trampled by his Jumbo-Visma team, and that Wout van Aert rolled out the red carpet.
The pair went 1-2 in Sunday’s rain-soaked 260km race which would have been surprising if not for a distinct sense of déjà-vu. Of course, 367 days ago, the pair crossed the line as equals at the E3 Saxo Classic, and last season they also did it as a trio with Primož Roglič.
“A gift” was how Laporte described his victory that day in Paris-Nice, and he was once again reaching for the thank you cards in Wevelgem.
“He was stronger than me today,” admitted Laporte, who lost Van Aert’s wheel on the final Kemmelberg climb before hooking up for the 32km procession.
“Wout was the one who asked me if I wanted to win with 10 kilometers to go,” he explained. “Of course you know what my answer was.”
The pair went in against Wevelgem and Van Aert, accidentally banging wheels at the front, even interrupting the choreographed celebrations to ensure Laporte was the winner.
“He gave me a gift, and I thank him for that,” said Laporte. “He’s a great champion, and I’m very proud to ride with him. We’ve been teammates for over a year, and we’ve done great things together.”
Laporte repeatedly expressed his gratitude to Van Aert, but also stated: “I feel that I owe a lot to the team.”
In fact, Laporte’s career has been on the rise since his decision to leave Cofidis at the end of 2021 and join one of the WorldTour’s leading outfits. Soon it was Paris-Nice and E3, and he won a stage of the Tour de France and finished second in the World Championship in a dazzling 2022 campaign. Despite his incredible performance at E3 on Friday, his second season with the Dutch team seems to be looking equally good.
Laporte almost came from nowhere. He was undoubtedly the leader of the Cofidis, despite their promotion to the WorldTour level in 2020, but there is still a big gap between the races Laporte won on the lower French circuit and the results he brings these days.
“I made a big career choice by switching teams, and it’s been a good one,” he said before asking if he regretted not making such a move sooner.
“I don’t feel like I wasted my time at Cofidis. I spent eight great years at Cofidis. I learned a lot. I learned how to be a professional bike. To join a team like Jumbo-Visma, I needed. take some height, in commas, they could already be counted in the final being one of the riders. It was the right time for me to leave. I don’t regret it, in any way, I’m very happy.
“It was my dream – like winning a stage in the Tour de France – to win a Classic, and now I’ve done it, thanks to the team and Wout. And thanks also to my family, who make a lot of sacrifices for me. I have two little boys, and it’s not always easy whether it’s for my wife or me, but when the sacrifices pay off, it’s great. It’s a special moment that I’ll cherish for the rest of my days.”
Laporte’s Jumbo-Visma has won every major cobblestone classic so far this season, with solo Dylan van Baarle at Omloop Het Nieuwsblad, Tiesj Benoot and Nathan Van Hooydonck another 1-2 at Kuurne-Brussel-Kuurne, Van Aert beat Mathieu. van der Poel and Tadej Pogačar on Friday at E3.
“If I wasn’t in this team, it would have left its mark for sure,” said Laporte after this latest display of dominance.
“We have a great collective. The team has really managed to create a team with these individuals. The understanding is perfect. I think we are all ready to see a teammate win and motivate ourselves. That is our strength, and we use it.”
Laporte still referred to Van Aert as the “big leader”, although it could be possible for him or one of the aforementioned riders to win the Tour of Flanders or Paris-Roubaix in the next two Sundays. Laporte confirmed his form is very much on the up after “not feeling 100%” at E3 on Friday, and the team as a whole is clearly flying, but
“So far we have achieved our goals, but the two biggest races are yet to come,” he concluded.