By Jean-François Quénet in Grenoble
France doesn't have a top cyclist for the Olympic road race on August 9 in Beijing but at least a serious candidate with Cyril Dessel, who came in sixth overall at the Critérium du Dauphiné Libéré. He was the only Frenchman to win a stage and it seems that his health problems of 2007 are past him. The AG2R rider has now totally fully recovered from toxoplasmose.
"I think I'm back at the level I had in 2006," he explained at the end of the Dauphiné. After the French Championship, he'll go back with high ambitions to the Tour de France where he also finished sixth – and best Frenchman – two years ago.
"After the Tour, I'd like to ride the Olympics and get a good result in Beijing. For me, it's this year or never and I think the course suits me. I really want to experience the Olympics." National coach Frédéric Moncassin confessed the difficulty for him to select the riders since he'll have to give his list of five men – including one who will double up with the time trial, which will possibly be Sylvain Chavanel – on July 21, one week before the end of the Tour de France. He has kept in his mind the memories of Athens, where the riders on form at the beginning of the Tour were no longer able to compete for the victory at the Games.
Moncassin will form a totally different French team for the Olympics in August and the World Championships in Varese in September.