Jérôme Coppel: Paris-Nice “suits me”
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Saturday, March 03, 2012

Jérôme Coppel: Paris-Nice “suits me”

by Kyle Moore at 1:37 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Paris-Nice
 
Emerging Saur-Sojasun team all in for their leader

Jerome CoppelAfter winning the time trial and the overall in February’s Etoile de Bessèges, as well as taking third overall in the Vuelta a Andalucia, Jérôme Coppel (Saur-Sojasun) is ready for an assault on the overall title in Paris-Nice, beginning Sunday.

With two of his team’s three wins – Stéphane Poulhiès has the other – Coppel is riding a similar confidence level that seems to permeate his entire team in the early months of 2012.  The 25-year-old Frenchman certainly has the confidence of Saur-Sojasun director Stephane Heulot.

“The first objective is to play the overall standings with Jérôme Coppel,” Heulot stated.  “We can dream of a podium if all goes well, because the course suits him perfectly.

“The concern is that Paris-Nice could be lost every day and cannot be won until the end.  The final time trial on the Col d’Eze, that I know well from the time I was a rider, is still crucial.  Before that, there will be many critical points to manage in the race days leading up to that decisive Sunday.”

The French team also sends Julien Simon to their home stage race.  Simon was caught in agonizing fashion in the finale of last month’s Tour du Haut Var, conceding the win to Jonathan Tiernan-Locke (Endura Racing) but hanging on to third place.  Saur-Sojasun was the most aggressive team in the decisive kilometers of that race, and Coppel said that this certainly proved to be a confidence booster as he turns his attention to Paris-Nice.

“It’s true that I like this course,” he admitted.  “I hope to go as well as I did two years ago, when I made it into the top ten [Coppel finished ninth overall in 2010 – ed.].  The uphill time trial will be different, but if my form is there, I think I will be able to do a good performance.”

The Saur-Sojasun support riders have improved with experience, and Coppel was complimentary of his team-mates and how they have begun the season.

“Everyone is doing well.  Last year, the Tour de France gave a lesson to all of us.  But the shape is there, with riders coming from either [races in] Spain or France, but also with those returning from Belgium, like Jimmy Engoulvent, who will be important to protect me,” Coppel added.

Heulot echoed his rider’s sentiments of confidence and trust in his team.

“We know that it’s the World Tour level.  It’s a different dimension,” Heulot said.  “But we will do the Ardennes, Catalyuna, and Romandie.  Race organizers trust us and our riders are aware of this, which is all part of the development we desire.

“The team is super-competitive.  This is the true start of the season for us and we have trained for it.  We hope that people begin to see us as more than just a Pro Continental team invited to a World Tour race.”

Saur-Sojasun for Paris-Nice

Jérôme Coppel, Jimmy Engoulvent, Jérémie Galland, Jonathan Hivert, David Lelay, Guillaume Levarlet, Julien Simon, Yannick Talabardon

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