On the occasion of the release of the book “Hinault” (112 pages, € 19.90), Prolongation offers digital subscribers of Ouest-France some of the contents of the first issue of its new collection, published by Éditions Ouest-France. Today, he meets Christopher Anquetil, son of the master Jacques and godson of Tasso.
LIGHT. Hinault at the Éditions Ouest-France, “Prolongation” collection. 112 pages. € 19.90. Orders and beautiful surprises (posters, subscription to Ouest-France, luxury edition, meeting with Hinault) to discover on Ulule.
In Les Elfes, this opulent Norman manor, the memory of the master Jacques occupies all the space. It is not a shadow, rather a breath. At the entrance of La Neuville-Chant-d’Oisel, a town located on the south-eastern plateau about fifteen kilometers from Rouen, we find this granite stele, which represents Jacques Anquetil as a dancer, dominating, on a background finely cut hexagonal. A large yellow mesh borders an enormous lawn at the entrance to a park of about twenty hectares. Welcome to the Château Anquetil.
Jacques Anquetil had acquired this estate in the late 1960s, when his career as an atypical champion was geared towards twilight. Swapping shorts for a gentleman’s clothes seemed obvious to Quincampoix’s ex-boyfriend, the son of a strawberry grower.
The haughty and imposing building, conventional with its red brick, had once housed Maupassant and Flaubert. Also two masters. Of their kind. Literature. Stones are like souls. Some are separate and retain a part of the nobility. And in this corner of Normandy, we know nothing of the greatness of a cult.
“Before Christopher’s birth, Jacques had thought of two people who would become our son’s godfather: Joop Zoetmelk and Bernard Hinault”
Jacques Anquetil is considered a myth, both for his exploits in the course of his cycling career and for his iconoclastic personality, just worthy of a character who spans the centuries and whose feats we love to tell. “This special champion, this singular man who knew how to welcome the joys and misfortunes of existence with extreme modesty and immense moderation, this friend full of demands, was not of ordinary caliber: before him, we would never have imagined that it could exist an Anquetil, and there won’t be one anymore. This is how Pierre Chany described in the newspaper the sunniest of the champions that France has known The group, as leader of the cycling section and faithful companion of the Normand. It was the moment of his disappearance, in the fall of 1987, a few months before his fifty-fourth birthday.
Thirty-five years after the death of the master Jacques, the mansion of the Elves has finally changed little. It remains steeped in its rich history and is now popular in the events industry (organizing seminars, weddings, birthdays, etc.). Jacques Anquetil’s latest partner, Dominique, Christopher’s mother, takes care of him with her son and her family. It is a full time operation. Like a legacy, a heritage in which everyone brings their know-how: “We take care of everything, of the property, of the exteriors, lists Cristoforo Anquetil. We host weddings, birthdays, all kinds of ceremonies and events such as business seminars, car or bicycle races. We also do bed and breakfast, with five bedrooms. It is very addicting and there is always something going on: the pool, the roofs, the plumbing. We are not bored. “
He has blond hair and light eyes. Her voice is ready. His bearing is in fact that of Jacques Anquetil, this father whom he did not know but whom he has never stopped hearing about. “We always said to him, ‘I knew your father well.’ It’s hard for a child to feel the same thing over and over again. He breaks a little, it hurts “, assures Dominique, the mother who protected him more than reason.
In 1985, when Jacques Anquetil learns that he will become a father for the second time, that his daughter Sophie will soon have a half-brother, he is delighted. The desire to share, to pass on to this child carries him. The first months after the birth of this blonde with the blue beads that illuminate her face will be an enchanted parenthesis. Too short and brutal. The day before Christopher’s baptism, in the spring of 1987, Anquetil learned that he was suffering from stomach cancer. Despite his courage in the test, the fight will be disproportionate and the fight will soon be lost.
“Before Christopher’s birth, Jacques had thought of two people becoming our son’s godfather …