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French National Championships - CN

Boulogne-Sur-Mer, France, June 23-26, 2005

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Day 3 - June 26: Elite Men's Road Race, 232.4 km

Fedrigo crowned after Brochard's hunger flat

By Jean-François Quénet in Boulogne-sur-Mer

Pierrick Fedrigo (Bouygues Telecom)
Photo ©: Jeff Quénet
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For the fourth time in five years, the team of Jean-René Bernaudeau has claimed the French national title. After Didier Rous in the colours of Bonjour (2001) and La Boulangère (2003), plus Thomas Voeckler also with La Boulangère last year, Pierrick Fedrigo follows on the list for the new sponsor Bouygues Telecom. They even scored a 1-2 with Laurent Brochard, who looked like going for the win, but failed because of a hunger flat within the last 10km.

The race started with a strong rivalry between Cofidis and Bouygues Telecom, not only because Sylvain Chavanel won the time trial title after leaving Bernaudeau, but also because of Cédric Vasseur's quotes in different newspapers. One year after being left out from the French championship and the Tour de France, due to his involvement - now proved to be wrong - in the Cofidis affair, Vasseur is still bitter that the Bouygues Telecom staff and riders pointed their fingers at him in the never ending doping debate. He wanted big revenge on his home soil of Boulogne-sur-Mer in the North of France. His ambitions ended up with a derailleur problem but very soon, Cofidis showed no team spirit compared to Bouygues Telecom, who outnumbered all the other teams from start to finish.

They were 10 in a group of 33 formed after half way into the race. Voeckler defended his title strongly after 10 of the 14 laps. He was up there with his team-mates Brochard and Fedrigo, and Sandy Casar (Française des Jeux), Sylvain Calzati (Ag2r), Sébastien Joly and Patrice Halgand (Crédit Agricole), John Gadret (Jartazi) and Nicolas Jalabert (Phonak). But Voeckler was the first of these ones to get dropped. Calzati and Halgand followed. Joly was courageous to attack on his own with 45km to go. But Brochard launched the strongest attack with 27km to go. He got a maximum lead of 1'28. The 1997 world champion was on his way to his first French title at 37, after missing the blue-white-red jersey in 1993 because his directeur sportif Cyrille Guimard chose Jacky Durand instead. But with 10km to go, he looked for food in his pocket. He was obviously hunger flat.

Riding a bike isn't the only thing that's dangerous
Photo ©: Jeff Quénet
Click for larger image

Fedrigo had stayed fresh on Jalabert's wheel. He attacked on the second last hill and easily rejoined Brochard before going solo for the win. It's his third success this year after Cholet-Pays de Loire in March and the 4 days of Dunkirk in May, exactly on the same terrain as this French national championship. "This is only happiness," he commented. "It was my job to do that." Bernaudeau insisted on the "total honesty" between his riders, although five or six of them were able to claim the title.

Fedrigo will start his third Tour de France on Saturday in Vendée where Bouygues Telecom has its headquarters. "I was already afraid of racing the Tour but it will be even worse with this jersey," the man from Marmande in the Bordeaux region said.

Photography

For a thumbnail gallery of these images, click here

Images by Jean-François Quénet

Results

1 Pierrick Fedrigo (Bouygues Telecom)                  5.48.59
2 Laurent Brochard (Bouygues Telecom)                     1.38
3 Nicolas Jalabert (Phonak Hearing Systems)                   
4 John Gadret (Jartazi Granville Team)                    2.46
5 Sébastien Joly (Credit Agricole)                        3.07
6 Sandy Casar (Française Des Jeux)                        3.27
7 Christophe Moreau (Credit Agricole)                     6.58
8 Christophe Mengin (Française Des Jeux)                      
9 Sylvain Calzati (Ag2r Prevoyance)                       7.00
10 Sylvain Chavanel (Cofidis, Le Credit Par Telephone)    7.21
11 Thomas Veockler (Bouygues Telecom)                     7.31
12 Jérôme Pineau (Bouygues Telecom)                           
13 Anthony Geslin (Bouygues Telecom)                          
14 Patrice Halgand (Credit Agricole)                     11.29
15 Mickaël Buffaz (Agritubel)                            16.19
16 Sébastien Hinault (Credit Agricole)                        
17 Stéphane Petilleau (Bretagne-Jean Floc'h)                  
18 Ludovic Martin (R.A.G.T. Semences)                    16.22
19 Walter Beneteau (Bouygues Telecom)                    16.27
20 Hubert Dupont (R.A.G.T. Semences)                          
21 Laurent Lefèvre (Bouygues Telecom)                    16.29
22 Jérémy Roy (Française Des Jeux)                       16.53
23 Niels Brouzes (Auber 93)                              25.37
24 Arnaud Labbe (Auber 93)                                    
25 Cédric Hervé (Credit Agricole)                             
26 Christophe Laurent (Agritubel)                             
27 Laurent Paumier (Mrbookmaker.com-Sports Tech)              
28 Eric Berthou (R.A.G.T. Semences)                           
29 Maxime Mederel (Auber 93)                                  
30 Nicolas Vogondy (Credit Agricole)                          

Courtesy of Stephane David