By Jean-François Quénet
Six years after winning the French championship for the first time and one and half year after being close to putting an end to his career, Nicolas Vogondy won, for his second time, the blue, white and red jersey of French champion. His win came after a long, solo effort.
Unlike his captain Christophe Moreau, the Agritubel rider was not a favourite. The defending champion but got trapped in the main group together with the most successful French rider this year, Sylvain Chavanel. But Vogondy attacked at the right time in pursuit of the early escapees.
"When I did it [attack - ed.], I didn't think I'd be able to stay alone till the end", he said. "But everybody was at their max. I was a bit disappointed to have finished fourth in the time trial on Thursday but before the road race, a few people made me notice that I had the number 13 on my back, just like the guy [former mountain biker Jean-Christophe Péraud, - ed.] who had won the amateur race yesterday. I am a superstitious person, so I believed there was a chance for me to win today."
The 30 year-old from Saint-Aignan-sur-Cher near Blois in the Loire valley, who turned pro 11 years ago, remembered that he might have already been retired. At the end of the 2006 season, his contract wasn't renewed by Crédit Agricole, the team he had re-joined after eight years with Française des Jeux. "As I became the French champion at the age of 24, maybe I've thought I had achieved everything and I took it easy," Vogondy admitted. "I'm very thankful to Agritubel that they called me at the end of November that year. I'm super happy to keep the jersey in the team."
It was the first time that the Pro Continental outfit won the French championship, but they have had the distinctive jersey in their ranks since Moreau joined them at the end of last year. "I was suffering cramps at the end of the race," Vogondy commented. "It was hot and 240km was a lot. As I was alone I didn't keep any energy for later. I think I was under a good star today."