After seeing his strong early-season form curtailed by injury, Bryan Coquard is back to winning ways and brimming with hunger for the races to come.
The Frenchman sprinted to victory at the Route Adélie de Vitré on Friday, and in doing so notched his third win of the season - his first since fracturing his shoulder blade ahead of the Ruta del Sol in mid February.
Coming after a string of encouraging performances since his comeback a couple of weeks ago, including second place at Dwars Door Vlaanderen, the victory gives the Direct Energie rider confidence that he has not lost the form that saw him win two stages at the Etoile des Besseges and take fourth at the Clásica de Almería.
“Since my return to competition, I’ve had really good sensations – it’s proof that I worked hard during my time off. In fact, I only really had five days off and I’m back now with hunger,” Coquard told French newspaper L’Equipe.
“From the comeback to the races in Belgium, I felt that the form was there. Today it really meant something to win. Crossing the line, I did a little salute in honour of Romain Guyot [who was killed in a training crash] – his trademark when he won.”
Coquard's season had started so brightly and it seemed cruel that he was forced to miss out on opportunities to sprint for victory at bigger races such as the Ruta del Sol and Paris-Nice. Despite that hint of regret, however, the 23-year-old is happy with where he is up to, and can now look ahead with bolstered confidence to his main objectives in April.
“I worked well over the whole winter and I very quickly obtained results by winning two stages at Besseges. I only have the regret of having to miss Paris-Nice, which was among my early-season objectives," he said. "I can’t have any real regrets. The comeback is going well. I had a short break sooner than I thought but I’m back and I’m winning. That’s not so bad.
“I now have other races to show myself, like Paris-Camembert on Sunday, the Circuit de la Sarthe, the Flèche Brabançonne, and Amstel Gold. I think there’s room to do something good in the coming weeks.”