BriefRichard Virenque, who has announced that winning the French Championship is his prime objective for the season, Laurent Jalabert, without doubt wanting to wear the blue white and red jersey, and Armand de las Cuevas, already a winner in 1991, are the men to watch in Sunday's French National Road Championship at Charade.
On Sunday at Charade, on the difficult route around the Monts d'Auvergne, these three riders are the logical favourites to succeed Stéphane Barthe. The course will be very selective with the riders having to contend with the 7 kms climb at 15 per cent gradient 11 times. The terrain will favour Virenque, who has won the climber's jersey in the Tour de France 4 times already. But Jalabert has also been climbing well as his form in the Classique des Alpes last month has shown. And then there is de las Cuevas, recent winner of the Critérium du Dauphiné Libéré and the Route du Sud.
The first consideration is that the chief of the Festina team has many helpers in this race. The two others are the only representatives in this race of their respective teams, ONCE-Deutsche Bank and Banesto. Their isolation will perhaps represent a handicap.
Of the other contenders who have the potential to win, like Laurent Madouas (Lotto), Jean-Cyril Robin (US Postal), Laurent Roux (TVM) or Luc Leblanc (Polti), they also ride for foreign teams.
It is certain that this race will not come down to a final sprint and there will be many attacks. But in the first laps, the riders will be climbing the mountain cautiously.
Virenque will be able to count on Laurent Brochard, the current World Champion, Pascal Hervé, Christophe Moreau andt Didier Rous. But should he not have the legs, each one of them has the necessary qualities to take the Championship. Especially Hervé, who has affectionately called them the Russian Mountains.
In terms of the teams, only the Casino team seems to be capable of matching it with Festina. With Christophe Agnolutto, Gilles Bouvard, Pascal Chanteur, Benoit Salmon and Jacky Durand, champion of France in 1993 and 94), they have the riders to make some trouble.
Cédric Vasseur (GAN), Lylian Lebreton (BigMat Auber) and Christophe Rinero (Cofidis) also figure among the possibles but everyone would be surprised if they won. But with 144 riders starting, all of them imagining the "bleu blanc rouge", anything could turn up on Sunday evening.
French Elite Championships, 209 kms:
1. Laurent Jalabert (ONCE-Deutsche Bank) 5.42.41 2. Luc Leblanc (Team Polti) s.t. 3. Richard Virenque (Festina-Lotus) 0.45 4. Stéphane Heulot (La Française des Jeux) 1.45 5. Laurent Madouas (Lotto-Mobistar) 4.57 6. Pascal Hervé (Festina-Lotus) 4.57 8. Jean-Cyril Robin (US Postal) 6.57 9. Gilles Maignan (La Mutuelle Seine-et-Seine) 7.13 10. Christophe Rinero (Cofidis) 12.21 11. Benoit Salmon (Casino) 17.04 12. Denis Leproux (Big Mat-Auber 93) 17.04 13. Lilian Lebreton (Big Mat-Auber 93) 19.23 14. Pascal Peyramaure (CC Nogent/Oise) 19.41 15. Claude Lamour (La Mutuelle Seine-et-Seine) 24.06 16. Frédéric Delalande (Jean Floc'h-Mantes) 27.47 17. Vincent Cali (Casino) 27.47 18. Philippe Bordenave (Big Mat-Auber 93) 28.28 19. Sylvain Desbois (Jean Floc'h-Mantes) 28.34 20. Noan Lelarge (CC Etupes) 28.34 21. Alain Saillour (UC Felletin) 29.33 22. Nicolas Vogondy (La Française des Jeux) 29.45 23. David Delrieu (La Mutuelle Seine-et-Seine) 30.31 24. Christophe Oriol (Casino) 32.04 25. Frédéric Bessy (Casino) 32.04 Started 136 Finished 25Stephane David, Paris provided the complete results
Race Report:French cycling photographer, Daniel Schamps, who often writes for www.cyclingnews.com provides this report on the French National Road Championships.
The circuit was really hard in the vicinity of Clermont-Ferrand in the Massif Central (in the very centre of France). One descent and one climb with 17% slopes (approx. 1 in 5). The circuit was 19km long to cover 11 times. More than 5000 metres to climb like a hard Pyrenean stage of the Tour de France. A good opportunity for the strong men ; they didn’t missed it. The race started at full speed (more than 39km/h for the two first laps) and after only one hour only forty riders remained with a chance of victory. For the others the race was over.
De las Cuevas (victor of the Dauphiné Libéré and the Route du Sud in June) shook the bunch and the leading group diminished kilometre after kilometre from 40 to 36, 32, 26. The Festina men (Moreau, Rous, Laurent) had to give their best to help Virenque who had to change his bike to close a big gap.
With five laps to go the six best climbers of the French bunch were in command. Hervé and Virenque (Festina), L. Jalabert (ONCE), Robin (US Postal Service), Leblanc (Polti) and Heulot (Française des Jeux). The two Festina’s actually disturbed the other members of the head. In the ascent Virenque tried his luck but had already the others in his back wheel. Hervé countered and was quickly 20 seconds clear when he punctured at the back wheel. The 4 others had already passed him when he changed his wheel. He was trying to refind his place ahead when he saw he had also a puncture at the front wheel. New stop. Three kilometres further he missed a curve, broke his wheel. Result: 1min25sec back and no hope to reach the head once more.
Then Luc Leblanc tried several times to move clear, during all the ascents he attacked but Jalabert regained ground metre after metre. Each time Virenque suffered (He is not as good as last year I think when he was so strong during the Tour de France) but always caught the two leaders. Heulot as well but only in the descent.
Useless to tell you that each time it was harder. Behind the 4 leaders the gaps were impressive. As Jalabert and Leblanc crossed the line for the penultimate time (overtaking Perraudeau of Gan on the line), Virenque chasing 28seconds behind, 100 metres clear of Heulot, the followers only aimed to finish. Hervé and Robin were at 4 minutes, Madouas at 4min 15sec, Cedric Vasseur at 4min45secs, Maignan at 5min45sec, Rinero at 7min15sec, Salmon and Leproux at 12 minutes (crossing the line as Leblanc and Jalabert were already climbing together in the last ascent).
Virenque was completely exhausted (telling the french TV cameraman when he joined for the last time Leblanc and Jalabert he was almost dead, putting a finger on his throat like a knife). This time, contrary to the other laps, it was Jalabert who attacked. Leblanc joined him but not Virenque. Heulot was almost freewheeling. He had no reaction when Jalabert moved clear. Then Leblanc and Jalabert joined their efforts and the leader of the UCI Classification was the fastest on the line, Leblanc crossing the line 5 metres behind him, applauding Jalabert for his success. And what a splendid rostrum with Virenque as 3rd man. First words of jalabert to sebastian Pozo his masseur: "C’était dur"!
Complete Starting List
Casino Festina 1. Barthe 63. Bassons 2. Agnolutto 64. Brochard 3. Bessy 65. Halgand 4. Bouvard 66. Hervé 5. Cali 67. Laurent 6. Chanteur 68. L. Lefevre 7. Durand 69. Médan 8. Gougot 70. C. Moreau 9. D. Lefevre 71. Rous 10. Oriol 72. Virenque 11. Salmon La Française des Jeux GAN 12. Bouyer 73. Bos 13. Casper 74. Hinault 14. Guesdon 75. Langella 15. Heulot 76. Moncassin 16. Jan 77. Perraudeau 17. Ledanois 78. Petilleau 18. Magnien 79. Pretot 19. Mengin 80. Seigneur 20. Morelle 81. Simon 21. Morin 82. Vasseur 22. D. Nazon 23. J-P Nazon TVM-Farm frites 24. Perque 25. Vogondy 83. Asmaker 84. Roux Big Mat-Auber '93 Home Market-Charleroi 26. L. Auger 27. G. Auger 85. Laveur-Pedoux 28. Bergès 86. Ramel 29. Bordenave 30. Bourguignon US Postal Service 31. Da Cruz 32. Genty 87. Deramé 33. Gouvenou 88. Robin 34. Hatton 35. Leproux Team Polti 36. Lebreton 37. Lino 89. Leblanc 38. S. Ravaleu 90. Rokia Cofidis ONCE-Deutsche Bank 39. Cappelle 91. L. Jalabert 40. Delbove 41. Desbiens Lotto-Mobistar 42. Gaumont 43. Goubert 92. Madouas 44. N. Jalabert 45. Moncoutié Banesto 46. F. Moreau 47. Plouhinec 93. De las Cuevas 48. Rinero 49. Saugrain Troiamarisco 50. Thibout 94. Fernandes La Mutuelle Seine-et-Seine 51. Bernard 52. Cueff 53. Delrieu 54. Dojwa 55. Gabriel 56. Guilbert 57. Lamour 58. Maignan 59. Pillon 60. Rault 61. Talmant 62. Teyssier Elite without Contract Riders 95. Delalande (Jean Floc'h-Mantes) 96. Guest (Jean Floc'h-Mantes) 97. Paumier (Jean Floc'h-Mantes) 98. Poilvet (Jean Floc'h-Mantes) 99. F.Ravaleu (Jean Floc'h-Mantes) 100. Templier (Jean Floc'h-Mantes) 101. Brard (VC St. Quentin) 102. Clain (VC St. Quentin) 103. Pencole (VC St. Quentin) 104. JM Thilloy (VC St. Quentin) 105. Barbier (VC St. Quentin) 106. Drubay (CC Etupes) 107. N.Dumont (CC Etupes) 108. Jeannier (CC Etupes) 109. Lelarge (CC Etupes) 110. Pofilet (CC Etupes) 111. Turpin (CC Etupes) 112. Blanchard (Vendée U) 113. Beneteau (Vendée U) 114. Faudot (Vendée U) 115. Guiberteau (Vendée U) 116. Pichon (Vendée U) 117. Remier (Vendée U) 118. Beaune (CC Nogent-sur-Oise) 119. D.Dumont (CC Nogent-sur-Oise) 120. Fouliard (CC Nogent-sur-Oise) 121. Klaes (CC Nogent-sur-Oise) 122. Leveau (CC Nogent-sur-Oise) 123. Peyramaure (CC Nogent-sur-Oise) 124. JP Duracka (Team Besson-Aulnat) 125. Gauthier (Team Besson-Aulnat) 126. Jousset (Team Besson-Aulnat) 127. Laroche (Team Besson-Aulnat) 128. Mauduit (Team Besson-Aulnat) 129. Potiron (Team Besson-Aulnat) 130. Augé (VC Lyon-Vaulx en Velin) 131. Finot (VC Lyon-Vaulx en Velin) 132. Flochon (VC Lyon-Vaulx en Velin) 133. Giguet (VC Lyon-Vaulx en Velin) 134. Painaud (VC Lyon-Vaulx en Velin) 135. Ruberti (VC Lyon-Vaulx en Velin) 136. Elias (US Montauban) 137. Bolgiani (Cycle Poitevin) 138. Planchaud (CG Orléans) 139. G.Moreau (CSM Persan) DNS 140. Flickinger (EC St. Etienne-Loire) 141. Saillour (UC Felletin-La Creuse) 142. Thevenin (CR 4 Chemins Roanne) 143. Corlay (UC Chateauroux) 144. Urien (Cyclisme en Finistère)Daniel Schamps, Paris provided the complete results
Women Road ChampionshipJeannie Longo, who will be 40 in October, won the French Women's Road Championship on Friday at Charade taking her 14th National Title in a row.
Attacking in the first of 6 laps with 7 other riders, she dropped one after another and finished 3.43 in front of Séverine Desbouys (2nd) and Fany Lecourtois (3rd), the only riders left on the last lap.
1. Jeannie Longo (Paris Cycliste Olympique) 2. Séverine Desbouys 3. Fany Lecourtois 4. Gérarldine Loewenguth
1919 Henri Pelissier 1920 Jean Alavoine 1921 Francis Pelissier 1922 Jean Brunier 1923 Francis Pelissier 1924 Francis Pelissier 1925 Achile Souchard 1926 Achile Souchard 1927 Ferdinand Le Drogo 1928 Ferdinand Le Drogo 1929 Marcel Bidot 1930 Roger Bisseron 1931 Armand Blanchonnet 1932 Andre Godinat 1933 Roger Lapebie 1934 Raymond Louviot 1935 Georges Speicher 1936 Rene Le Greves 1937 Georges Speicher 1938 Paul Maye 1939 Georges Speicher 1940 no race 1941 Rene Vietto 1942 Emile Idee 1943 Paul Maye 1944 Urbain Caffi 1945 Eloi Tassin 1946 Louis Caput 1947 Emile Idee 1948 Cesar Marcelak 1949 Jean Rey 1950 Louison Bobet 1951 Louison Bobet 1952 Adolphe Deledda 1953 Raphael Geminiani 1954 Jacques Dupont 1955 Andre Darrigade 1956 Bernard Gauthier 1957 Valentin Huot 1958 Valentin Huot 1959 Henri Anglade 1960 Jean Stablinksi 1961 Raymond Poulidor 1962 Jean Stablinksi 1963 Jean Stablinksi 1964 Jean Stablinksi 1965 Henri Anglade 1966 Jean-Claude Theilliere 1967 Desire Letort 1968 Lucien Aimar 1969 Ramond Delisle 1970 Paul Gutty 1971 Yves Hezard 1972 Roland Berland 1973 Bernard Thevenet 1974 Georges Talbourdet 1975 Regis Ovion 1976 Guy Sibille 1977 Marcel Tinazzi 1978 Bernard Hinault 1979 Roland Berland 1980 Pierre-R Villemiane 1981 Serge Beucherie 1982 Regis Clere 1983 Marc Gomez 1984 Laurent Fignon 1985 Jean-Claude Leclercq 1986 Yvon Madiot 1987 Marc Madiot 1988 Eric Caritoux 1989 Eric Caritoux 1990 Philippe Louviot 1991 Armand de las Cuevas 1992 Luc Leblanc 1993 Jacky Durand 1994 Jacky Durand 1995 Eddy Seigneur 1996 Stephane Heulot 1997 Stephane Barthe