French National Championships
Charade, Clermont-Ferrand, June 25-27, 1999
Men's Elite Road Championship, 202.8 kms. June 27Preview
The French Championships to be held on Sunday are over a difficult parcours in Charade which is near to Clermont-Ferrand. With Laurent Jalabert missing, the race seems to be shaping up as a very open affair. It seems certain that Richard Virenque will be using it to vent anger about missing out on the Tour de France.
Jalabert dominated the race in 1998 which was held over the same circuit around the old volcanoes of Auvergne. He refused to take a French medical examination and so the French Cycling Federation refused to allow him to start. The FFC did allow Virenque and his teammate from Polti Stéphane Goubert to put in late entries. Polti had changed addresses and the FFC gave the riders the benefit of doubt. There are 94 entries and all riders will have to undergo a medical examination on Saturday morning.
The race will be held over a 15.6 kms parcours which the riders have to negotiate 15 times. There is a long descent and a 4.6 kms climb to a height of 250 metres. The layout will, according to the Michel Laurent, manager of Crédit Agricole. "suit a climber or a very strong rider." Among the favourites are the riders from La Française des Jeux, and Stéphane Heulot in particular. He won the tri-colour jersey in Castres in 1996. Jean-Cyril Robin is also in form at present.
The top team since the start of this season has been Casino and they will be counting on Pascal Chanteur and perhaps Benoît Salmon. Salmon is one of the great hopes of French cycling. He was sick during the Critérium du Dauphiné. Cédric Vasseur, is another big threat in the race. The parcours is also good for the young climber David Moncoutié, who won a stage in the Critérium du Dauphiné.
With only a week to go to the Tour de France, the atmosphere at Charade, the location of the French national championships at the foot of Puy-de-Dôme, is getting more excited. As planned, all the riders underwent a medical test including blood tests, as the third examination in the longitudinal study imposed by the French Cycling Federation. The tests were performed on Saturday morning in the rider's hotesl and the results were encouraging. All 94 entries will be allowed to start, each one recording hematocrit levels below the 50 per cent limit allowed under UCI rules. The riders are becoming tired of the scrutiny over the doping.
One rider said: "It is always a relief to find the results are okay." There was no hint of fear though. He went on that it was difficult to be continually confronted "with the same questions and with the same suspicions."
Vincent Cali of the Home Market-Ville de Charleroi teama said after the test: ""It is true that this morning after seeing a camera in front of our hotel that I did not want to be co-operative. One has the impression that the journalists come as if there were already positive tests, if we were guilty."
The media waited for Richard Virenque to show up. They finally realised that he was not taking the test in his hotel, some 12 kms from Clermont-Ferrand. In fact, he had gone to the hotel of his former team Festina for the test.
When he was tracked down there, he refused to make any specific comments about dopiong except to call them lies. He said: "I have not trained much since the Giro. And I am not sure how strong I am now. But the parcours is suited to my strengths and I know the public will be right behind me."
What about the obligation to submit to the series of tests? Virenque: "Personally I found it impractical to have to undergo this test on the eve of an important race. I was hoping to sleep for 9 hours this morning."
30-year old François Simon (Crédit Agricole), the last of a group which has dominated French cycling for the last two decades brought to "the clan" another championship shirt - the blue-white-red jersey of the road champion of France. He won the race on a very demanding circuit at Charade near to the foot of the conquered in the Championship of France on road, Sunday afternoon, on the Dôme volcanos.
His teammate Cédric Vasseur, who was third at 0.39 said: "For French cycling this is a good thing." Second place-getter Pascal Herve (Festina) at 11 seconds was very disappointed. The 35-year old has with Richard Virenque always denied being part of the Festina doping system and said he would retire immediately if he won the tri-colour shirt. He will now ride the rest of the season with regrets. So close, so far.
The course was shortened from 234 kms to 202.8 kms to make allowance for its difficulty - "the leg-breaker" was being used to describe it. The race was made even more difficult by the win and frequent rain. But it was exciting to the end. Richard Virenque seemed set to create a dream ending. During the last hour, a quartet made up of Virenque, Jean-Cyril Robin, David Delrieu and Cédric Vasseur, led the race but the gap was continually changing - the rubber band effect. In the end, it was the duet of Simon and Herve that took the initiative with three laps to go.
Virenque had seemed the most comfortable of all the leaders. But then he showed that he was hiding tiredness. He was given great support from the crowd which turned out for the race. But with only a few metres to go he went to early and was passed close to the line and missed a podium place.
Simon has been very consistent all season. He was 5th in the Midi Libre and 9th in Critérium du Dauphiné. He also descended beautifully today. He said afterwards: "Besides Stéphane Heulot, I was the strongest today. I had some difficulty coping with all the attacks at the beginning. But I was confident because my team always managed to place somebody in the breaks to help me."
Even though he was a superior sprinter to Herve he attacked prior to the end - with 1 km to go. I saw that Pascal stayed on his saddle and I knew that I could go at that point."
AVS: 35.108 km/h 1. François Simon (Crédit Agricole) 5.46.35 2. Pascal Hervé (Festina) 0.11 3. Cédric Vasseur (Crédit Agricole) 0.39 4. Richard Virenque (Team Polti) 0.39 5. Jean-Cyril Robin (La Française des Jeux) 0.50 6. David Delrieu (Casino) 1.01 7. Fabrice Gougot (Casino) 5.30 8. Frédéric Gabriel (Home Market-Ville de Charleroi) 5.30 9. Stéphane Heulot (La Française des Jeux) 5.30 10. Laurent Brochard (Festina) 5:38 11. Frédéric Bessy (Casino) 7:59 12. David Lefèvre (Casino) 13:42 13. Christophe Oriol (Casino) 13.42 14. Denis Leproux (Big Mat-Auber 93) 15.05 15. Benoït Luminet (Besson Chaussures-Nippon Hodo) 20.50 16. Sébastien Laroche (Besson Chaussures-Nippon Hodo) 20.50 Started: 93 Classified: 16
François Simon - In Brief:François Simon began his professional career in 1991 with the French team Castorama. He had raced the Tour de France several times and has twice finished second on a stage (Dijon in 1997 and Cap d'Agde in 1998).
Women's Road Championship, 78 kms, June 25:Jeannie Longo showed her dominance of French women's cycling by winning the Women's champion on a difficult parcours at Charade. It was her 15th National Road Championship and her 39th National title in all categories. 40-year old Longo annihilated the opposition finishing 6.28 in front of second place getter Géraldine Loewenguth.
She said afterwards: "I went off on the first climb and I could see that my rivals were tired."
35-year old Loewenguth, won the "second race" and has only been racing for the last 3 years. She showed how much progress she has made. The only rider who might have challenged Longo was refused a start by officials. Catherine Marsal, who was a close second to Longo in the ITT on Wednesday, did not attend an unexpected blood test on Friday morning in the hotel of the various teams. In tears, Marsal pleaded that she had acted in good faith. But her plea was in vain.
1. Jeannie Longo (Ebly) 2.25.11 (32.235 km/h) 2. Géraldine Loewenguth (Alsace) 6.28 3. Séverine Desbouys (Provence) 8.08 4. Sandra Temporelli (Ile de France) 8.11 5. Aline Camboulives (Dauphiné-Savoie) 8.17 6. Fany Lecourtois (Normandie) 9.15 7. Elisabeth Chevanne Brunel (Aquitaine) 9.41 8. Nadia Triquet (Lorraine) 10.10 9. Sandrine Marcuz (Midi-Pyrénées) 10.10 10. Albine Caillie (Ile-de-France) 10.10 11. Marita Bach (Alsace) 12.34 12. Magali Le Floch (Champagne-Ardenne) 14.38 13. Karine Dalmais (Ebly) 14.38 14. Séverine Prior (Bourgogne) 14.57 15. Jocelyne Messori (Dauphiné-Savoie) 14.57 16. Pierrine Raimboeuf (Limousin) 16.17 17. Laurence Restoin (Ebly) 16.51 18. Alexandra Lehenaff (Mantes-Jean Floc'h) 17.03 19. Gwenn Oster (Aquitaine) 17.46 20. Katia Courtois (Cote-d'Azur) 20.53
Women's Espoirs Road Championship:
1. Nadia Triquet 2. Sandrine Marcuz 3. Séverine Prior
Men's Elite 2 (Amateur) Road Championship, 156 kms, June 25:24-year old Ludovic Turpin, who rides for CC Etupes (Doubs), won the French Road Championship for Elite 2 (amateurs) at Charade, which is just north of Clermont-Ferrand (Puy-de-Dôme). He beat 24-year old Cédric Célarier, who hails from the Limousin region. 149 riders set out to tackle the difficult parcours. The early speed was high and broke up the peloton. Turpin's team, the club champions in France since 1996, dominated the race. At 30 seconds in third was 22-year old Freddy Ravaleu, from the Jean Floc'h-Mantes team, which controlled the race at times. The team from Bretagne had 4 riders in the main break of 12 riders that went away with 4 laps to go.
The winner said: "I know that the parcours suited me. But still this is an exceptional day for me." It was his 9th success of the season. His next objective is the Tour de l'Avenir.
1. Ludovic Turpin (CC Etupes) 4.22.51 (35.610 km/h) 2. Cédric Célarier (23-La Creuse) 3. Freddy Ravaleu (Jean-Floc'h Mantes) 0.30 4. Pascal Pofilet (CC Etupes) 0.49 5. Stéphane Pétilleau (Jean-Floc'h Mantes) 0.50 6. Nicolas Dumont (CC Etupes) 0.53 7. Christophe Morel (SO Charvieu) 1.07 8. Walter Beneteau (Vendée-U) 1.45 9. Laurent Paumier (Jean-Floc'h Mantes) 1.47 10. Sébastien Foure (VC Rouen) 1.57 11. Eric Drubay (Franche-Comté) 2.07 12. Michel Ambrosini (Midi-Pyrénées) 2.21 13. Cédric Jourdan (Ile de France) 2.21 14. Noah Lelarge (Picardie) 2.21 15. Pascal Peyramaure (Lyonnais) 3.06 16. Vincent Templier (Bretagne) 5.02 17. Christophe Thébault (Bretagne) 5.08 18. Vincent Renault (Orléanais) 7.59 19. Sébastien Loigerot (Dauphiné-Savoie) 8.02 20. Lionel Lorgeou (Aubervilliers) 8.19 Started: 149 Classified: 29
The standings of the division one teams in the National rankings after race 4 (the French road championship) are.
1. CC Etupes 236 pts 2. Jean Floc'h-Mantes 172 3. Vendée La Roche-sur-Yon 131 4. VC Rouen 76 95 5. C.M. Aubervilleirs 93 94
Men's Open ITT Championship, 40.8 kms, June 24:Gilles Maignan (Casino) who will be 31 soon, was rewarded for his efforst on a difficult circuit at Charade on Thursday. He did just enough to win the Elite ITT and retain the title he won last year in Malbuisson. He said: "I benefitted from the experience of last year. I did not speed up on the second lap. I was monitoring my HR. I knew there was a long false flat and difficult descent and the wind didn't help."
Maignan, who felt very strong, rode the two laps (each 20.4 kms) like a metronome - 28.44 and 28.57, respectively. His team manager Vincent Lavenu, was not surprised with his performance and agreed it was a very strong average speed of 42,436 km/h.
"He was very motivated and is a true specialist in the ITT. This year he has shown that several times and he has come into this well prepared following the Tours of Sweden and Luxembourg."
In front by a second at the half-way mark, Christophe Moreau (Cofidis) attacked the difficult part of the circuit for the second time and lost time. He finally conceded 32 seconds. His face on the podium showed the extent to which he had suffered.
1998 champion and second to Maignan in 1998, Francisque Teyssier came in fifth this year at 1.22. Third at 0.50 was 22-year old Frédéric Finot. He was very happy afterwards. He was second in the Espoirs world championship last year and he showed he has great potential. He is from a good background and has been helped by Denis Roux and Michel Laurent.
1. Gilles Maignan (Casino) 57.41 (42.436 km/h) 2. Christophe Moreau (Festina) 0.32 3. Frédéric Finot (Crédit Agricole) 0.50 4. Laurent Brochard (Festina) 0.53 5. Francisque Teyssier (Festina) 1.22 6. Laurent Lefèvre (Festina) 2.11 7. Anthony Langella (Crédit Agricole) 2.20 8. Christophe Bassons (La Française des Jeux) 2.27 9. Laurent Genty (Big Mat-Auber 93) 2.27 10. Florent Brard (Festina) 3.02
Junior Men (17-18 years), ITT Championship, 20.4 kms, June 23:
1. Guillaume Canet (Lyonnais) 30.46 (39.781 km/h) 2. Christophe Riblon (Ile-de-France) 0.24 3. William Bonnet (Orléanais) 0.32 4. Jean Zen (Midi-Pyrénées) 0.38 5. Christophe Kern (Alsace) 0.48 6. Benoît Vaugrenard (Bretagne) 0.48
Espoirs Men (19-22 years), ITT Championship, 35.6 kms, June 23:
1. Sandy Casar (Bretagne) 53.10 (40.168 km/h) 2. Nicolas Fritsch (Saint-Quentin) 0.20 3. Sylvain Chavanel (Pays de la Loire) 0.43 4. Fabrice Salanson (Pays de la Loire) 0.59 5. Philippe Koehler (Franche-Comté) 1.07 6. Benjamin Levecot (Pays de la Loire) 1.20 7. Gérald Marot (Limousin) 1.35 8. David Derepas (Bourgogne) 1.35 9. Pierrick Fedrigo (Aquitaine) 1.45 10. Yannick Meyer (Alsace) 1.54
Women's, ITT Championship, 20.4 kms, June 24:
1. Jeannie Longo (Ebly) 31.35 (38.739 km/h) 2. Catherine Marsal (Lorraine) 0.54 3. Géraldine Loewenguth (Alsace) 1.29 4. Albine Caillie (Ile-de-France) 1.38 5. Emmanuelle Farcy (Normandie) 2.47 6. Marion Clignet (Midi-Pyrénées) 3.12 7. Maryline Salvetat (Midi-Pyrénées) 3.44 8. Rachel Leroux (Mantes-le-Ville) 5.13 9. Sonia Huguet (Lorraine) 5.21 10. Gwenn Oster (Aquitaine) 5.23