Drunk ran over brother: The tears of the Tour stage winner

As a child, Hugo Houle watched the Tour de France with his brother every year.

Drunk ran over brother: The tears of the Tour stage winner

As a child, Hugo Houle watched the Tour de France with his brother every year. Both did triathlons, and the Canadian then specialized as a teenager. Now he wins his first stage. His brother can no longer see it: He was killed by a drunk driver in 2012.

A few meters from the finish, Hugo Houle raises his arms and stretches a finger towards the sky, visibly moved, before he jubilantly crosses the finish line. The Canadian from Team Israel-Premier Tech wins the 16th stage of the Tour de France. For him it is the first stage victory - and also a very emotional one.

"I've never won, this is the right place to win my first race," Houle said shortly after his triumph, before beginning to cry. Through tears, he adds: "I won this stage for my brother who passed away. It's incredible. I don't know what to say."

The section from Carcassonne to Foix is ​​178.5 kilometers long, after the rest days it is this year's Pyrenees premiere. Houle is part of a 29-man breakaway group that breaks up early. In the Mur de Péguère, the 31-year-old then demonstrates his climbing skills and drives away from everyone. He fights alone and maintains his lead. At the finish, Houle is more than a minute ahead of Valentin Madouas (Groupama), in second place, followed by his compatriot and teammate Michael Woods in third place. For Canada, Houle's victory is only the second one-day victory by a citizen in the Tour of France since Steve Bauer in 1988.

Houle wasn't even born at the time, but he's been following the tour fascinated in front of the television since he was a child. Along with his younger brother Pierrik. "When we were younger we lived in a small village and there wasn't much to do, but we were happy when the tour came," Houle said before the tour started about the time with his brother. He's more than just a brother to him, they're best friends, do almost everything together and even find a sport that inspires them together. They start with triathlon, are training partners - and the younger one is the faster one. "He was a bit like me, we went to sports together. I think he was nine then, I was twelve. We raced together, at first he was faster than me," Houle once said, according to the magazine "Peloton ".

When Hugo Houle specialized in cycling at the age of about 14, Pierrik changed too. But then he switched to football, "and left the bike behind a little more," Hugo Houle recalls. Pierrik Houle, who ultimately wants to become a police officer, is not good enough for a professional career. But then a tragedy happens. During Christmas 2012, Pierrik Houle goes jogging, is hit by a drunk driver and killed.

The 19-year-old has been away from his family for too long. Hugo Houle goes in search of his brother - and finds him lying alone on the street. The perpetrator had committed a hit-and-run. "I would say it destroyed me more in the beginning. But today I see it as driving me to keep training hard to achieve that," says Hugo Houle now.

The memory of his brother will also have accompanied him on today's stage. Pierrik Houle has never been able to follow a race live in Europe, but his older brother made his Tour de France debut in 2019. "It's bad for me that he never got to see all of that. That's why I really want to achieve that before I stop."

In the past year he has come very close. On the tenth stage, he rides 150 kilometers in a breakaway group, but is collected 40 kilometers from the finish. It wasn't enough to win back then, but to be honored as the most combative driver. "I came to the Tour de France with the aim of winning a stage in honor of my brother," he says in 2021. "With today's competitive prize I've come a little closer to this goal, at least I have the Tour de France -Enter the podium."

And now the dream comes true, Houle wins a stage. Just as he promised himself and his brother Pierrik.

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