Bernard Bourreau has begun his new role as French national road coach, promising to continue his work with the new generation of French riders he helped develop as Junior and then Under 23 national coach.
Bourreau is not a famous name of French cycling like his troubled predecessor Laurent Jalabert or his rival candidates Christophe Agnolutto, Dominique Arnaud, Éric Boyer, Cyrille Guimard and Jean-Cyril Robin. He was a solid domestique with Peugeot in the seventies and an excellent road captain and has held a backroom role in French cycling.
However the 62-year-old's track record is impressive. He has played a role in the development of Romain Sicard, Romain Bardet, Warren Barguil, Arnaud Démare, Jerome Pinot, Bryan Coquard, Tony Gallopin, Blel Kadri and Nacer Bouhanni. While Jalabert was linked to cycling's past, Bourreau is part of French cycling's present and future success.
"I've seen lots of the current pro riders step up, from the junior, from Espoirs. I think that's what made the difference," he told l'Equipe after his new role was announced on Wednesday.
The hilly Florence course
Bourreau has promised to spend August at the French races, talking to riders and teams before he selects the nine riders for the French team.
"I saw the course in Florence in April when I went to check the team hotel. The climb is 4.5km long and is tough," he said. "It's not for pure climbers but for puncheurs that can climb," he suggested.
"I never lost contact with the pro ambient. I've followed the results and the progress of lots of riders who turned professional and I worked with Jalabert in the Pro squad for France."
"The first thing I'm going to do is make contact with the teams and the managers, exactly as I did with the Espoirs and the divisional clubs in France."
Bourreau avoided revealing the names of the riders who could be part of the French team but concurred with l'Equipe when the names of Sylvain Chavanel, Christophe Riblon, Tony Gallopin and Arthur Vichot were suggested. He added: "I think Voeckler should also be in there."
The final names for the French team will be announced in mid-September.
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