Jérôme Coppel (Saur-Sojasun) achieved his stated objective at this year’s Tour de France: a top 15 finish on general classification. His final placing of 14th saw him achieve that goal, but even though the Frenchman had been recruited to the team as a stage race leader in 2010, he was still surprised to find himself fighting for a top placing in the Tour as soon as this year.
“I didn’t expect to be a team leader at the Tour de France at only 24 years of age," Coppel told Velochrono.
“We had it in our minds to target week-long races first. Then, we thought that it would be good to ride a Grand Tour in the second year, just for learning, before trying to go for a top 15 or top 10 placing in the third year,” he said.
After crashing hard in stage seven to Chateauroux, Coppel experienced “one of the worst days ever spent on a bike” on stage nine to Saint-Flour. But his team manager Stéphane Heulot, a former rider with Banesto in the nineties, helped him to continue. “Stéphane told me that Indurain also had difficult moments and that he was able to improve again as the days went by. I had to stay put and hide myself a bit in the bunch,” Coppel recalled, and it worked out.