By Jean-François Quénet in Stuttgart
France's Jérôme Coppel claimed the bronze medal at the U23 men's individual time trial world championship in Stuttgart, Germany, on Wednesday just as he did last year in Salzburg. The Frenchman walked away with no regrets.
"45 seconds between myself and the winner (Lars Boom) is not something that requires a photo-finish," Coppel said. "The gap is quite big. I said I would have signed up for whatever position on the podium prior to the start, so I'm happy with the bronze medal.
"I was afraid of blowing up, so I didn't start too strongly," said Coppel. "But the two strongest riders have taken the two first spots. I knew them from last year; they are both used to taking part in professional races, therefore they have more power than I do."
Coppel will join the pro ranks next year. He signed a two-year contract with Française des Jeux during the Tour de l'Avenir where he was the favorite for the time trial although he crashed in the last curve. The reigning French champion for U23 in both the time trial and road race also won the UCI 2.2 Circuit des Ardennes in April prior to being forced to a stop because of an injury.
"I will start from scratch again," he said. "As soon as I turn pro, everything I've achieved before will not count anymore. For the first year of my career, I'll just try and learn my job. I hope to become a more complete rider. Within three or four years I want to be able to win one-week long stage races."
Coppel firmly believes that a young rider like him should be afraid of becoming a pro. "You find cheats only when you look for them," he stated. "I don't think cycling is more affected by drugs than other sport. I'm not afraid." He added he's happy to join FDJ who is known for its strong anti-doping policy.
"I've chosen the team," he said. "They have an excellent team spirit. They were the first ones to contact me before I got my first results." For the past two years, Coppel was a member of the foundation of Française des Jeux which backs young athletes from different Olympic sports as long as they continue their studies.
Coppel might be just be France's next elite champion.