"Mr. Hugo Houle" visiting Premier Tech

“Mr. Hugo Houle” visiting Premier Tech

(Rivière-du-Loup) With its five or six large buildings of resolutely modern architecture, one has the impression of landing on university grounds.

Posted yesterday at 6:39 pm

Simon Drouin

Simon Drouin

The place is also called Campus Premier Tech. Rather, it is the “world headquarters” of the multinational Rivière-du-Loup, which specializes in horticultural and agricultural products, computer systems, water and environment, 3D visualization, etc.

But the store that offers cycling clothing and the jerseys hanging on a wall in the employee entrance remind us that we are really entering cycling territory.

On Wednesday, the bicycle was even more in the spotlight of the 1,400 “equiperos” who work on the Campus. “Mr. Hugo Houle”, introduced by Premier Tech CEO and majority shareholder Jean Bélanger, was on his way to highlight his historic Tour de France stage victory.

Arriving for lunch, the hero of the day was later joined by the six Israel-Premier Tech teammates who will accompany him to the Grands Prix Cyclistes de Québec and Montreal, Friday and Sunday, including Québec Guillaume Boivin.

After a dinner under a tent where all the “team members” were invited, the bravest were able to mix with the runners for their last real training before the weekend’s competitions.

After passing through Rivière-du-Loup, the group followed the river to Kamouraska, where coffee and pastries awaited the cyclists. The seven professionals then had to stretch to Saint-Jean-Port-Joli before showering and returning to Quebec in vehicles.

Earlier, in front of reporters, Houle said he didn’t anticipate any big changes despite his newfound fame.


Hugo Houle

“I am especially happy to be here, to experience the Grands Prix,” he said on 23.me du Tour, surrounded by Bélanger and the owner of the formation, Sylvan Adams.

“I am curious to see what this year will be like after the good press I had during the month of July. Of course, the preparation remains the same. I am happy to enjoy the beautiful environment and show people at home what I do all year round in Europe. »

Additional pressure? Well, the The main stakeholder almost seemed surprised by the question, recalling that he was surrounded by a “very, very strong team” for these events that will likely be decisive for the state of the Israeli-Canadian lineup next year.

I wouldn’t say I have extra pressure compared to other years. Personally, I approach things the same way. Of course, I am much more focused than for a race in Belgium where I am going incognito and for which I don’t necessarily have any expectations. I would like to perform in Quebec and Montreal, that’s obvious. Sometimes the legs work and another day less well. I did what I had to do, we’ll see what happens.

Hugo Houle

Aside from this whirlwind stay in Bas-du-Fleuve, the 31-year-old athlete turned down all other requests. This has included refraining from visiting certain family and friends, the one aspect of his growing notoriety that the Monaco resident deals with less easily.

“I saw absolutely no one. It is difficult to give time as I would like to everyone. Requires some privacy. Now I have to make decisions. I can’t be everywhere at the same time. This is the somewhat boring part of the story: saying no more regularly. »

That said, Bélanger, who became friends over the course of their relationship dating back to 2017, emphasizes how the man hasn’t changed.

“People are proud and happy, and Hugo gives back to them. He has changed his state, but not how he thinks, he unfolds and perceives himself. His way of relating to people remained the same. He is humble. It’s nice to see because there are people who don’t have a hard time getting out of doors. »

Since his return to the country at the beginning of last week, Hugo Houle has been able to better measure how much his success on July 19 has marked the imagination, even off the bike. His reaction to the end of Foix when he dedicated his victory to his late younger brother left no one indifferent.

“It is certain that the story with my brother touched many people. The emotion speaks for itself when looking at the photos and videos. There is the sporting side, but there is also a lot of the human side that has brought a certain pride to Quebec. »

From there to compare his feat with other great moments in the history of sport in Quebec…

“I have a hard time saying: OK, that’s what I did. I saw it a little smaller… People were still cheering this summer’s achievement. »

And it still resonates all the way to Bas-du-Fleuve, where a merry group of team members worked to remind him.

“Not healthy for sport”


Sylvan Adams, Hugo Houle, and Jean Belanger

The meeting with Hugo Houle at Premier Tech was an opportunity for Sylvan Adams and Jean Bélanger to remind themselves of their “long-term” commitment to cycling, regardless of the state of the team next year. Israel-Premier Tech is under threat of falling back to the second tier if it fails to earn the points needed to move up at least two rungs to 18th.me place among the WorldTeams at the end of the season. Adams had even offered his “personal guarantee” that such a relegation would not occur before the start of the Tour de France. “We are experiencing a situation that I would describe as a case of force majeure,” the Montreal-born boss defended this Wednesday. COVID-19 was particularly devastating for his workforce, which, for example, killed three out of eight runners in Paris in July. The owner explained that he was part of a group of seven teams “in the gray zone of points” trying to reach an agreement with the International Cycling Union. “We are united on the issue. It would be very bad for any team to be relegated. It is not healthy for the sport. So there are discussions. »

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