By Gregor Brown in Stuttgart
Laszlo Bodrogi is moving in the right direction. The 30 year-old Hungarian finished second to Fabian Cancellara in the Time Trial World Championships on Thursday, one place up from his third place way back in 2000. He believes that the future will hold rainbow colours, regardless of the country he is representing.
"From seven years ago, I have gone up one step, from third to second," he said Saturday afternoon to Cyclingnews. Back in 2000, he was racing for Mapei, and has since moved from Quick.Step and now to Roger Legeay's Crédit Agricole. "I think that first spot will come one of these days. The form was there from the Vuelta [a España], second in a time trial; I used the race to prepare for the Worlds. I took a week off after the Vuelta, and went to my home in France. I trained there in the week, and then drove here to Stuttgart.
"I am the only elite level rider here [for Hungary], I did the TT and I will also be the only one for the road race. There are a lot of supporting staff from the federation, however, most of those will go home after the Under 23 race. There will be about three that will remain, along with some Crédit Agricole staff."
Bodrogi is the only elite man to represent Hungary in the World Championships. A home and family in France, along with a lack of support from his native country have led the time trial rider to consider switching nationalities.
"Soon I will make the documents necessary to ride for France. My wife and children are French. It is normal that I also ask for French nationality."
He believes he will have no problems being selected for the French squad to compete in the Worlds and Olympics based on his good time trial skills. "I am a specialist in the time trial, and in France there are not a lot like me. For the time trial [selection] it will to be a problem. When the team makes its picks for the time trial, it could also consider me for the road. Last year I finished in 19th at the worlds, so it is possible to ride a good road race."
The switch could allow Bodrogi to race under the blue, white and red colours of France for the 2008 Olympics. "I don't know how fast the paper work will be done, or if I will be on the French team for the 2008 Worlds or Olympics," Bodrogi pondered. "The Hungarian federation will not be very content when a rider like me goes away. However, there are many problems with the federation. It said I could do the Worlds but it had not given me any money for the hotels or my travels. It did it how it wanted. I was left to do it on my own, with the help of Crédit Agricole. [The Crédit Agricole team] think that I can make a good result, which is good for them, and they make a small investment for me."
As Bodrogi pointed out, he finished well in last year's World Championship in Salzburg. He reckoned he has a chance for Sunday's 267.4-kilometre test, where he will be up against 2006 champion and his old Mapei team-mate, Paolo Bettini. "Tomorrow's road course is harder than last year," he said.
"I think that it will be like last year in that there will be lap after lap with an escape that is allowed to go free. Then the finale will be the time for the leaders of the big nations to move to the front. It will be hard for many riders to stay with the main group and finish. For me it will be a goal to stay with the front group."
He will close out his year with two more races and then enjoy a nice winter at home in France. "There are still two more races, the Circuit Franco-Belge and then Paris-Tours."