French national team manager Laurent Jalabert has bemoaned the fact that so few of his riders have opted to compete in the Vuelta a España as build-up for the world championships. Jalabert has spent two days following the Spanish race and reiterated his believe that it constitutes the best preparation for Melbourne.
“For many years, we’ve seen that the world champion and the majority of the top twenty were in Spain before the worlds,” Jalabert told L’Équipe. “However, this isn’t an exact science, and all existing approaches and preparations have to be taken into account.”
One of the riders Jalabert would have liked to have seen line up at the Vuelta is Sylvain Chavanel, but the Quick Step rider has instead opted to build towards the Worlds by riding the new Canadian ProTour races next Friday and Sunday. “I’m not the one who is going to push him [to go to the Vuelta]. That’s his problem,” Jalabert said.
Jalabert took over as French manager last season and for his first worlds campaign in Mendrisio he attempted to play an active part in his riders’ preparation. This time around, however, his role seems a more passive one.
“[Last year] the moment that I explained what I wanted in terms of preparation, the response was a bit ‘I know myself, I know what I have to do,’” Jalabert explained. “I was a little bit disappointed. I didn’t see it like that at the start. Now that I’ve understood that the riders know themselves well, it’s different. I’ll let them get into form themselves…”
For his part, Française des Jeux trainer Frédéric Grappe feels that the riders’ professional teams could offer input into their world championship preparation if they were given the chance. “[Jalabert] communicates very little with the various technical staffs, we don’t see him,” Grappe told L’Équipe. “It’s up to him to take the first step.”
France failed to finish in the top ten of the UCI national rankings this season, meaning that it will not compete with a full complement of nine riders in Melbourne. It has received an extra place as not all of the nations in the top ten have enough riders to fill their quotas but ultimately Jalabert feels that the statistics don’t lie about the qality of the French riders.
“Having an extra rider is always better,” Jalabert said. “But I maintain that France has not really progressed in respect to last year. Thirteenth in the world rankings is a reflection of our level on the international scene.”
The highest-placed French rider at last year’s world championships road race in Mendrisio was Sylvain Chavanel, who finished a distant 29th. “I was disappointed by the results but not by the riders’ attitude,” Jalabert insisted.
Jalabert today flies to Canada ahead of Friday’s Grand Prix de Québec and he is expected to announce his Worlds selection on Monday.