Henri Sannier, ancien journaliste et commentateur du Tour de France a comme objectif de refaire du vélo.

After a year in a wheelchair, journalist Henri Sannier is still fighting the disease

Henri Sannier, former journalist and commentator of the Tour de France, has the objective of cycling again, once well recovered from his debilitating illness. (©The Journal of Abbeville)

There can be no victory without a fight. A quote that fits perfectly Henri Sannier, winner in the face of a virus that had confined him to a wheelchair for almost a year and a half. Battling a neuropathic disease since December 2020, the former journalist and commentator of the Tour de France can now walk again.

It is between two stages of the Big Loop, the biggest competition dear to his heart, that the 74-year-old former sports journalist welcomes us to his home in Eaucourt-sur-Somme, a small village nearAbbeville (Somme) of which he has been mayor since 1977.

With sincerity and emotion, Henri Sannier evokes this fight won thanks to an incredible will and the precious support of his family.

Deprived of the use of his legs and hands

The daily life of the mayor of this small village in Abbevillois changed in December 2020: “I made a fall from a bicycle and a few days later, I contracted this disease, this virus. As I had during this time a vaccine against the flu, no one can tell me how I caught this disease, ”says Henri Sannier.

” And two months later I couldn’t walk…”, recalls the former host of “Tout le sport” on France 3, who will find himself deprived of the use of his legs and hands. A true waking nightmare for this great athlete and cycling enthusiast.

The specialists explained to me that my antibodies, supposed to defend me, were attacking my organism.

Henry SannierFormer Tour de France commentator
The former sports journalist passionate about cycling with Richard Virenque and Laurent Jalabert.
The former sports journalist passionate about cycling with Richard Virenque and Laurent Jalabert. (©Henri Sannier)

“My blood has been filtered 17 times”

“I first went to the University Hospital of Amiens where I was treated for a Guillain-Barré syndrome. But the doctors who thought it was not this syndrome directed me to the Pitié-Salpêtrière hospital in Paris. There, I received another treatment: plasmapheresis. For four hours they filter my blood to renew my plasma.”

The mayor of Eaucourt continues: “My blood has been filtered in this way 17 times. I keep going back to Paris every six weeks to perform plasmapheresis. I was lucky to have super teams around me. Henri Sannier began his rehabilitation in Berck (Pas-de-Calais) then continued in Abbeville.

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I lost about ten kilos but especially muscle in my legs. I no longer have quadriceps.

Henry Sannier

But by force of will and thanks to the unfailing support of his family, the one who was presenter of the JT on Antenne 2 was able win his fight in the face of illness.

A great career as a sports journalist

Henri Sannier left his mark on journalism on public channels.
From 1986 to 1987, he created and presented 19/20 on FR3.
He then presented the Journal de 20 Heures d’Antenne 2 in 1987 and 1988, then from September 1990 to September 1992. Henri Sannier subsequently presented the Journal de 13 Heures d’Antenne 2 from 1992 to 1994. He became national editorial director of France 3 from February 1994 to September 1997.
From 1997 to 2017, Henri Sannier was the editor-in-chief and presenter of the program “Tout le sport” on France 3. A program for which he received the Sept d’or for the best sports program in 2001.
Passionate about cycling, which he practiced regularly until his accident in December 2020, Henri Sannier commented on the Tour de France in 2005 with Laurent Jalabert and in 2006 with Laurent Fignon.
The journalist retired in September 2017 and now devotes himself to his town of Eaucourt-sur-Somme, of which he has been mayor since 1977.

How Henri Sannier started to walk again

the click to regain walking, Henri Sannier had it in the middle of the night. A night that will remain engraved in his memory: “it had been many nights when I dreamed that I was walking from my gate to the house. Last June, during the night, I got up to get some medicine. And I walked! In fact, I think I realized that I could walk again. »

When I showed my granddaughter that I was walking again, she applauded… I was the happiest, as if I had won a stage in the Tour de France!

Henry SannierFormer Tour de France commentator

Like a rebirth, Henri Sannier has gone from sitting to standing since about a month. Since this click, the former commentator of the Tour de France can finally walk again and drink (in moderation of course) with his family.

“I always stayed strong in my head. I have always been well surrounded by my wife Sylviane, my children and my loved ones. And my grandchildren, Alice and Louis are a rejuvenation and a great source of motivation”, he underlines.

Lots of mail from old viewers

What also touched Henri Sannier in the heart were the many marks of support and messages of encouragement received from all over France and on the other side of the world.

“I received a lot of letters from former viewers who encouraged me or gave me tips for overcoming illness. The people of the village have also been very supportive, as have my town council and my neighbors. I discovered a universe of solidarity and kindness. It boosted me. »

If he can walk slowly but surely for the moment, Henri Sannier is working for regain full use of their hands.

It’s harder to come back for the hands. But I’m not losing hope and I know I’ll get there. My goal is to be able to get back on the bike and ride again.

Henry Sannier

In the meantime, Henri Sannier uses an exercise bike for his rehabilitation, not far from his vegetable garden where he likes to grow beans, tomatoes or zucchini.

While waiting to be able to get back in the saddle, Henri Sannier rides an exercise bike to regain muscle tone.
While waiting to be able to get back in the saddle, Henri Sannier rides an exercise bike to regain muscle tone. (©The Journal of Abbeville)

His goal is in a little over a year with the return of an event or rather his event: La Ronde Picarde. A large cyclosportive between Abbeville and its village of Eaucourt, which passes through the Baie de Somme.

I want to be on a bike at the start. I know that I can count on the presence of big names in cycling and friends like Richard Virenque.

Henry Sannier

At the end of the interview, Henri Sannier makes it his duty and an undisguised pleasure to accompany us to the gate of his house. He deserves the fighting spirit award. This famous red bib awarded to the most combative Tour de France cyclist at the end of each stage.

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