Laurent Jalabert, the selector for the French world road championships team, said on Monday he hoped one of his seven-man team would medal at the world championships in Geelong, Australia.
However, Jalabert, the 1997 world time trial champion, said he’s being realistic and that without GP Quebec winner Thomas Voeckler on the squad, the team lacks a star capable of winning the road race.
The best known name on the seven man list is Sylvain Chavanel, who won two stages on this year’s Tour de France and wore the overall leader’s yellow jersey.
The 31-year-old will be the unofficial leader said Jalabert even though as he conceded Chavanel lacks ‘perhaps the freshness and the rhythm required for such a race’.
“The target is to get a medal,” said Jalabert, who was in Montreal this weekend.
“But I am remaining realistic. Without underestimating our riders abilities, when did we manage a podium finish in a classic this year? In fact when was the last time that a Frenchman finished in the top three in a classic?
“I know that under those circumstances I am asking for quite an exploit and there will have to be favorable cirumstances.”
Jalabert bemoaned the fact that there was no standout candidate and revealed he had tried to persuade French champion Voeckler to revise his decision not to compete.
“We do not have an obvious leader such as Belgium’s Philippe Gilbert, Italy have Filipo Pozzato or the Russian Alexandr Kolobnev, who are all capable of making a decisive break on a tough climb,” said Jalabert.
“Voeckler’s selection for me was all but a certainty as he is the French champion, but he rang me at the end of August to tell me that he hadn’t really got the mindframe to compete in the championships.
“After Friday’s race in Quebec, I tried to convince him otherwise.
“It is a shame that he doesn’t want to come but I understand. He says he is exhausted after a long season.”
French world championships team
Road race (October 3): Sylvain Chavanel, Romain Feillu, Yoann Offredo, Anthony Geslin, William Bonnet, Cyril Gautier, Sebastien Hinault.
Time trial (September 30): Sylvain Chavanel, Nicolas Vogondy.