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French Championships - CN
Aurilliac, France, June 28-July 1, 2007
Day 3 - July 1: Elite men road race, 242 km
Moreau overcomes thirteen years of disappointment
By Jean-François Quénet in Aurillac
Christophe Moreau has proven to be the strongest French rider just two weeks after winning the Dauphiné Libéré, producing a totally dominant performance in the French national championship. Moreau rode solo for the entire final hour and put more than two minutes into his breakaway companions Patrice Halgand and Pierrick Fedrigo, with the latter acknowledging post-race: "There was nothing to do against him."
"I've always dreamt of becoming the French champion," Moreau commented. "It's pure happiness. I've been a pro for 13 years. In the time trial, I've lost the title for 13 years and my defeats on the road have been even worse, sometimes because I was too isolated against teams of 25 riders, sometimes because I had too many guys focusing on my back wheel."
During the race, he remembered the French championship won by Didier Rous in Plumelec in 2004. "He went away by himself from far out and we never caught him. Today's circuit was perfect for a strong man alone in the lead. I didn't even attack. I accelerated and nobody followed me. I would have liked to stay with the other guys for one more lap but it was too risky."
And the one-man show started. "I managed to remain focused till the end," Moreau said. "With 3km to go, I could already hear the Marseillaise (the French national anthem) in my head. In the last 300 metres, I was in tears. I almost cracked."
He was full of emotion again during the ceremony, as he held in his arms his two-month old baby girl Margaux. "She's getting used to the podiums earlier than her mother," Moreau said. "You know that Emilie was a podium girl at the Tour de France and she gave me the yellow jersey after the prologue in 2001. I think this blue, white and red jersey of French champion thrills me even more."
With four riders in top-10, Ag2r has also proven to be the most competitive team from France, while Française des Jeux and Bouygues Telecom made some mistakes. FdJ drove the bunch behind the early breakaway and then tried a collective attack but its only outcome was to leave Sandy Casar isolated in the chase behind Moreau.
Bouygues had Fedrigo in the leading break but he fell victim to stomach problems. When team staff realised their leader's predicament they told Jérôme Pineau and Laurent Brochard via the radio, but unfortunately Pineau's radio wasn't working and Brochard didn't inform him. Sylvain Chavanel eventually relayed the news, but too late, and he now rides for Cofidis, he's no longer a team-mate of the former Bonjour boys...
How it unfolded
Samuel Plouhinec (Agritubel) was the first man to attack on lap one of the 11 lap race, taking off with Julien Belgy (Bouygues Telecom), Fabien Patanchon (Française des Jeux), Cyrille Lemoine (Crédit Agricole), Julien Loubet (Ag2r) and Cédric Pineau (Roubaix-Lille-Métropole). The six men became eight with the reinforcement of Stéphane Augé (Cofidis) and Pierre Drancourt (Bouygues Telecom).
Their maximum lead was 10'22 as Française des Jeux, Bretagne-Armor Lux and Auber 93 put one man each in front of the bunch to maintain a manageable gap.
With less than 100km to go, Française des Jeux put the hammer down - ten of them were part of the 24 man group that escaped from the bunch: Mikaël Chérel, Sandy Casar, Mickaël Delage, Arnaud Gérard, Frédéric Guesdon, Lilian Jégou, Rémy Di Gregorio, Cyrille Monnerais, Jérémy Roy and the new French time trial champion Benoît Vaugrenard. The others were: Christophe Moreau, Carlo Naibo and Christophe Riblon (Ag2r), Arnaud Labbe, Jérôme Pineau and Thomas Voeckler (Bouygues Telecom), Freddy Bichot and Nicolas Jalabert (Agritubel), Nicolas Portal (Caisse d'Epargne), Sylvain Chavanel (Cofidis) and Guillaume Le Floc'h (Bretagne-Armor Lux).
As the large group was eventually caught, along with the early breakaway, Di Gregorio attacked but he was countered by Moreau, Pierrick Fedrigo (Bouygues Telecom) and Patrice Halgand (Crédit Agricole). The trio escaped with 70km to go as a chasing group composed of Laurent Brochard and Pineau (Bouygues Telecom), Casar and Mourey (Française des Jeux), Anthony Charteau (Crédit Agricole), Augé (Cofidis), David Le Lay (Bretagne-Armor Lux), John Gadret, Riblon and Ludovic Turpin (Ag2r), Sylvain Chavanel (Cofidis) and Jalabert (Agritubel) formed behind.
Fedrigo was sick with stomach troubles and couldn't follow Moreau when he decided to attack solo with 40km to go. It was the right move. Nobody would see him again. Fedrigo and Halgand united their efforts with the former proving stronger to take the silver medal.
For a thumbnail gallery of these images, click here
Images by Régis Garnier/www.velofotopro.com
1 Christophe Moreau (Ag2R Prevoyance) 6.06.25 2 Pierrick Fedrigo (Bouygues Telecom) 2.19 3 Patrice Halgand (Credit Agricole) 2.21 4 Jérôme Pineau (Bouygues Telecom) 3.58 5 Nicolas Jalabert (Agritubel) 5.19 6 Laurent Brochard (Bouygues Telecom) 5.22 7 David Le Lay (Bretagne Armor Lux) 5.49 8 Ludovic Turpin (Ag2R Prevoyance) 9 Christophe Riblon (Ag2R Prevoyance) 6.15 10 John Gadret (Ag2R Prevoyance) 6.49 11 Sandy Casar (Francaise Des Jeux) 12 Sylvain Chavanel (Cofidis Le Credit Par Telephone) 6.53 13 Francis Mourey (Francaise Des Jeux) 14.02 14 Stéphane Auge (Cofidis Le Credit Par Telephone) 14.14 15 Arnaud Labbe (Bouygues Telecom) 14.51 16 Hubert Dupont (Ag2R Prevoyance) 15.00 17 Kilian Patour (Team Slipstream) 18 Jean-Luc Delpech (Bretagne Armor Lux) 19 Sébastien Hinault (Credit Agricole) 20 Guillaume Levarlet (Auber 93) 21 Cédric Coutouly (Agritubel) 22 Denis Robin (Agritubel) 23 Mickaël Larpe (Roubaix Lille Metropole) 24 Geoffroy Lequatre (Cofidis Le Credit Par Telephone) 25 Christophe Le Mevel (Credit Agricole) 26 Vincent Jerome (Bouygues Telecom) 27 Sébastien Duret (Bretagne Armor Lux) 28 Cédric Herve (Agritubel) 29 Laurent Lefevre (Bouygues Telecom) 30 Olivier Bonnaire (Bouygues Telecom) 31 Blaise Sonnery (Ag2R Prevoyance) 32 Christophe Edaleine (Credit Agricole) 33 Antoine Dalibard (Bretagne Armor Lux) 34 Hervé Duclos-Lassalle (Cofidis Le Credit Par Telephone) 35 Cyril Lemoine (Credit Agricole) 36 Damien Monier (Cofidis Le Credit Par Telephone) 37 Nicolas Vogondy (Agritubel) 38 Sébastien Minard (Cofidis Le Credit Par Telephone) 39 Frédéric Gabriel (Landbouwkrediet - Tonissteiner) 40 Cédric Vasseur (Quick Step Innergetic) 41 Nicolas Portal (Caisse D`Epargne) 42 Stéphane Goubert (Ag2R Prevoyance) 15.13 43 Lilian Jegou (Francaise Des Jeux) 44 Dimitri Champion (Bouygues Telecom) 15.15 45 William Bonnet (Credit Agricole) 15.20 46 Matthieu Sprick (Bouygues Telecom) 15.26 47 Yann Huguet (Cofidis Le Credit Par Telephone) 15.30 48 Nicolas Hartmann (Cofidis Le Credit Par Telephone) 49 Maryan Hary (Cofidis Le Credit Par Telephone) 50 Amael Moinard (Cofidis Le Credit Par Telephone) 51 Benoît Vaugrenard (Francaise Des Jeux) 52 Frédéric Bessy (Cofidis Le Credit Par Telephone) 53 Thomas Voeckler (Bouygues Telecom) 54 Jean Mespoulede (Auber 93) 20.38 55 Christophe Masson (Continentale Cycling Team Differdange) 56 Mathieu Perget (Caisse D`Epargne) 57 Yohan Cauquil (Jartazi Promo Fashion) 58 Guillaume Pont (Yawadoo Abm Tv Vlaanderen) 59 Emilien-Benoît Berges (Agritubel) 60 Frédéric Finot (Roubaix Lille Metropole) 61 Eric Berthou (Caisse D`Epargne) 62 Steven Tronet (Roubaix Lille Metropole)