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French National Championships - CN

France, June 26-29, 2008

National Champs summary     2007 results     The program     Preview

The program

  • Day 1 - June 26: Time Trials: Elite Men, Women, Juniors, 22.1/43.2 km
  • Day 2 - June 28: Road Races: Elite Women, Amateur men, 110.4/165.6 km
  • Day 3 - June 29: Road Races: Elite Men, Juniors, 239.2 km

A doublé for Chavanel?

By Hedwig Kröner

The 2008 French Championships in Semur-en-Auxois could enter the record books with a never-realized feat according to Sylvain Chavanel, this year's top favourite for both the time trial and the road race events. The Cofidis rider admitted he was "eyeing a double victory" on the demanding courses through the medieval countryside of Burgundy. With his five wins for the first half of the season and his climbing as well as endurance talents, the elder of the Chavanel brothers hopes to score at least in one of the two competitions - even though adding a third time trial title to his palmarès could be slightly less interesting than the road champion's jersey.

The courses around Semur-en-Auxois can be defined as hilly, but not too difficult. The time trial events, to be carried out on Thursday, June 26, will be 22.1km-long for the women, and 43.2km for the men. Both circuits contain two ascents - however, the latter one will be more demanding as it is longer and steeper in gradient.

Chavanel's main rivals in the time trial will be Benoît Vaugrenard (Française des Jeux) and Dimitri Champion (Bouygues Telecom), the defending champion and his runner-up. Vaugrenard prepared himself at the Tour de Suisse, while Champion concentrated solely on time trial work-outs since he finished the Volta a Catalunya.

As for the women, the eternal Jeannie Longo (AS Palais Sports Alpexpo) will once again be battling it out against her team-mate Edwige Pitel and Maryline Salvetat (VSLL Castres). The 49-year-old could achieve a 27th road title and an 8th victory in the race against the clock.

The main event on Sunday will see 171 Elite riders doing 13 laps on a 18.4km-course, totaling 239,2 kilometres. An 800m-long pavé section, offering a 4-5 percent gradient, as well as the Côte de Lantilly, (a steady, seven percent climb of two kilometres) will be the road race's main difficulties.

But Chavanel knows the race will be difficult to control, as many riders are physically well-prepared at this time of year, with some of them still needing to make a strong showing to get selected for the Tour de France. "It will be difficult, as the race parcours is not very demanding, so it may come down to tactics," said the Cofidis leader. "Moreover, a lot of Frenchmen are in form - we've seen this recently. So it'll be very open."

Defending champion Christophe Moreau (Agritubel) will be motivated to retain his tricolore jersey - still feeling unfairly treated as his team was not invited to the recent Dauphiné Libéré, of which he is the 2007 winner. he counts 13 team-mates at his side - a little less than the ProTour teams Bouygues Telecom (21 riders), Française des Jeux (19 riders), Cofidis (18 riders) and AG2R La Mondiale (17 riders) and Crédit Agricole (15 riders).

Because of the number of its riders, Bouygues Telecom is the traditional favourite for the race; however, it remains to be seen if riders like Thomas Voeckler, Pierrick Fedrigo or Jérôme Pineau can withstand the attacks.

Cyril Dessel, back from illness, is also a good bet. The AG2R rider recently showed in the Volta a Catalunya as well as in the Dauphiné that he is to be counted on, and has a strong team longing for results behind him.