France claimed its first time trial medal at the UCI Road World Championships since Laurent Jalabert's gold in 1997 as Jérôme Coppel rode to third place, 26 seconds off winner Vasil Kiryienka (Belarus). Coppel, a two time bronze medallist against the clock at the U23 Worlds, wasn't considered a pre-race favourite but the 29-year-old upstaged the likes of Tony Martin (Germany), Tom Dumoulin (Netherlands) and Rohan Dennis (Australia) to finish on the podium.
"I'm really happy with this bronze medal," Coppel told the French cycling federation. "I think I was in an exceptional day. I had my best sensations of the season in this race. I had everything on my side, and the bonus of luck. Everything worked. It was the right day."
Coppel, one of two French riders selected for the event alongside Romain Sicard (Team Europcar), had finished outside of the top ten only this season against the clock when he placed 40th at the Tour de France. One week after claiming a maiden French time trial title.
Setting off as the 17th last rider from 65 starters, Coppel started slowly but picked up the pace over the 53km parcours as he crossed the line and made his way into the hotseat. First Malori, then Kiryienka disposed the Frenchman but with the top three pre-race favourites off the pace, Coppel became just the second Frenchman to claim a medal against the clock at the Worlds.
"I sign off my best season, yet it's funny as it was chaotic," he reflected on his season after the podium ceremony. "I broke my hand at the Tour of the Basque Country, and I had to do many sessions on my trainer. I resumed racing at the Tour of Switzerland, and then I won the French time trial title."
While Coppel has enjoyed years with more victories, five in 2010 and three in 2012, he believes his debut season in IAM Cycling colours is his best yet.
"This is probably my best season. I experienced a lot of problems but I also responded with good results."