Saur-Sojasun's Coppel tackles big races with smaller team
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Sunday, May 02, 2010

Saur-Sojasun's Coppel tackles big races with smaller team

by Bjorn Haake at 5:01 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling
 

Jérôme Coppel spent two seasons riding for Française des Jeux before joining the smaller outfit of Saur-Sojasun at the beginning of the year. Many would consider this a relegation, but Coppel feels quite happy with his situation and his aggressive racing have netted him a tenth place in Paris-Nice. He talked to VeloNation about the remaining objectives for the season.

Coppel has had some trouble adjusting to the rigid ways a ProTour team is run. "At Française des Jeux, I was obligated to do races that didn't suit me very well and I had no choice about my race program." Things have changed for the 23-year-old Frenchman. "I can choose my program, I can train the way I want - in fact I can do anything I want my way."

The confidence from the French Continental team into Coppel's own ways paid off quickly. In March, he had a great Paris-Nice and used his climbing abilities to deliver a top ten in the overall. His latest results were fourth in the Vuelta a la Rioja and third at the GP Llodio.

Coppel will use the Four Days of Dunkirk and the Dauphiné Libéré to build for the French Championships. "I know the parcours already. I am eyeing the time trial and then I will see if the legs are there for the road race," he said. For the third time in 10 years the French Nationals will be held in the cycling-crazy Vendée region, in Chantonnay.

Coppel regrets that the team did not get invited to the Tour de France. "I hope we get to start at the Vuelta a España. If so, my goal is a top 15 placing in the overall." This is another difference to his former team. "I am the leader in the stage races, which also wasn't the case at Française des Jeux."

Coppel's climbing ability comes natural, as he grew up in the mountainous area east of Geneva. "I started out doing cross-country skiing and used the bicycle only to prepare for the ski season." But things changed in 2002. "I started to ride for VC Annemasse, then I joined CR4C, which is one of the best teams in France." In 2008 he made the move Française des Jeux for two seasons, before making a step up by going to a smaller team.

Despite admitting before Eschborn-Frankfurt that he lacked experience for the race ("I looked at the profile and experienced teammates explained the hills to me"), he raced every bit as aggressive as he had promised. "I hope to have the legs and compete for the win. I will try to attack like always," he said when he rolled to the start line.

Coppel was in the 25-man front group that formed halfway through the race. He then bridged up to the two leaders Matteo Carrara (Vacansoleil) and Evgeni Petrov (Katusha). When the trio was caught with about 16km remaining, Coppel did not give up and went again immediately. "It is a pity to be caught in the local laps," he said about his capture in the second of three local laps. Despite ending the day in 15th, he was happy for himself and his teammate Julien Simon, who also made one final effort in the last lap. "Our team did a superb race today," he said, proud to be racing for Saur-Sojasun.

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