Jérôme Coppel: “For 2012 the objective remains the same”
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Saturday, December 10, 2011

Jérôme Coppel: “For 2012 the objective remains the same”

by Ben Atkins at 1:20 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Tour de France
French hope is proud of his Tour de France finish but realises that the number of favourites abandoning helped his chances

jerome coppelJérôme Coppel (Saur-Sojasun) remains one of the big hopes for the future of French cycling and, after his fourteenth place in this year’s Tour de France, appears to be on track for success. In an interview with Cyclism'Actu though, the 25-year-old looked back on the season and reasoned that the bad luck of others worked to his advantage in a crash-marred first week.

The young Frenchman ended his season at the Giro di Padania, in early September, where he finished a respectable sixteenth, and has had plenty of time to begin his preparation for 2012.

“I started training early because I had stopped my season early in 2011 as well,” he explained. “I started playing sports in early November, but no cycling at first, just a few exercises to work my body. Having ended my season, I'm well rested; I went on vacation and tried to heal my leg, which ached from my crashes in the Tour.

“I also took the opportunity to recharge my batteries before heading back to training early in November,” he added.

Coppel began racing in February at the Etoile de Besseges, finishing fourth overall, and raced a number of stage races on the way to his big target at the Tour de France.

“On balance it was pretty good,” he said of the season. “I have completed all the objectives I’d set myself; I managed to be there in all of the races I’d selected, notably including a top 15 in the Tour de France. After that, there are always some things can be improved.

“Early in the season,” he continued. “I was really super, on top of my form racing in Spain. It was a really good start; then I started my preparation for the Tour de France in order to make the top fifteen, which I managed to do despite some glitches.

“Perhaps with a bit of luck I could have done better, but for a debut with the team it was still great.”

Despite that promising finish at the Tour though, the highlights of Coppel’s year came in Spain in the early spring.

“It is difficult to highlight one in particular, there are many,” he said. “However, I would say the mountain stage in the Tour of Murcia [where he finished third - ed]. Physically I was really good, and most importantly, I was battling with Alberto Contador and Denis Menchov; even if they were perhaps not 100%, it was still good and rewarding to race with them.

“Also, still in the same race, I came to realise the next day that I could compete with Menchov in the time trial, which was really fun. I really had very good feelings at that time.”

While it might be hard for him to choose his best day of the year though, it is not hard for Coppel to pick out the worst.

“Without hesitation, [it was] the stage of the Tour de France that finished in the Massif Central in Saint-Flour,” he said. “It was two days after my crash and my feelings were not really good. In addition, on that day, there were quite specific circumstances of the race with Alexandre Vinokourov (Astana) and Jurgen Van Den Broeck (Omega Pharma-Lotto) crashing out.

“It was really a hard day for me, clearly the worst in 2011.”

Looking ahead to 2012 Coppel is able to be realistic about his performance this year in his setting of goals. Had riders like Vinokourov and Van Den Broeck – as well as others like Team Sky’s Bradley Wiggins – not crashed out, they would have likely finished ahead of him.

“This year, I made a top 15, the objective has been completed,” he said, “but I still don’t forget that there were several contenders for the top 10 or better who were victims of crashes and forced to abandon.

“The objective should be the same in 2012: a top 15, and if I have a little more luck then why not approach the top 10.”

What’s more impressive than Coppel’s fourteenth place is that he was only the fourth Frenchman – behind Europcar duo Thomas Voeckler (4th) and Pierre Rolland (11th) and AG2R La Mondiale’s Jean-Christophe Péraud (10th) – where in the past he might have been the first. With a new generation of French riders with their eyes on the top of the general classification, rather than the best chance to get themselves on TV in the break, the 2012 Tour de France should make good viewing for the host nation.


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