World championships: France leaves it all on the road in Copenhagen
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Monday, September 26, 2011

World championships: France leaves it all on the road in Copenhagen

by Kyle Moore at 4:58 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, World Championships
 
Feillu sixth, Ravard thirteenth for Jalabert’s squad

Thomas VoecklerWithout a surefire sprinter capable of beating the best in the world in Copenhagen, Laurent Jalabert’s French team opted for an attacking style in yesterday’s Elite road race. The tricolour team animated the elite men’s road race throughout and on the finish line could boast a sixth place overall for Romain Feillu. Anthony Ravard finished thirteenth, the highest placed number two rider amongst all competing nations.

While he was certainly hoping for better, Jalabert was pleased with the way his team rode overall. “In a world championship, it’s only a win that matters,” he explained to Eurosport.fr. “I am still very happy with the way the team raced. They fully complied with the instructions, which were to animate the race, keep a card in play for the finish, and prepare the sprint for Romain.”

The French carried out their coach’s every request, beginning practically with the drop of the flag. Anthony Roux got away quickly to take part in the day’s early breakaway, and he was soon joined by Yoann Offredo, who came up with a second group. As the race wore on and the British-led peloton closed down the gap, Roux attacked solo.

Maintaining the mindset his French FDJ team had throughout the Tour de France, Roux was the last to be reeled in before his team played its next card. Thomas Voeckler put in a dig with Nicki Sorensen (Denmark) and Klaas Lodewyck (Belgium) for company. As he came up to Roux, Voeckler seemed to pause to see if his compatriot would be able to latch on. Exhausted from more than 200 kilometers in the lead, Roux had to decline, and Voeckler gave him a congratulatory pat on the back before continuing ahead.

“It was a good time to attack,” Voeckler remarked at the finish. “I believed [in the possibility of staying away] a little way over the line beginning the final lap. We had a nice little lead and I felt that I still had strength. But [Lodewyck] was not riding, because he was there for Gilbert. What could I do? I have no regrets when I see the winner.” Mark Cavendish (Great Britain) sprinted to victory ahead of Matt Goss (Australia).

On a finish that turned out to be for the pure sprinters, Voeckler’s and any other breakaway attempt was doomed. So Ravard began setting up his help for Feillu, who later admitted to feeling under the weather during the race, and in the days leading up to it. “All day I felt like I was running out of power,” Feillu admitted at the finish. “I was sick for several days, and I even vomited in the final three circuits.”

“I went to see Romain during the race. He told me to try my sprint,” Ravard stated. “I stayed in the wheels. In the sprint, I found myself with Greipel and Farrar. I ran out of energy in the final meters. It leaves me with regret.”

“The sprint was a bit confused, complicated by the many accelerations,” Jalabert added. “But it’s a good result.”

Along with placing two in the top twenty, France also finished with three others in the main field. Offredo, the country’s primary Classics hope in the coming years, hung on to play a part in the finale, eventually taking 37th. Tony Gallopin was 53rd and Sylvain Chavanel rounded out the top seventy.

The country won two races at the worlds, taking the first two places in the Under 23 road race courtesy of Arnaud Demare and Adrien Petit, and also winning the junior men's road race with Pierre Henri Lecuisinier. It finished third in the medals table behind Great Britain and Australia.

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