French men's team finalised for Bergen Worlds
Gougeard to ride time trial with Alaphilippe leading the road team
Previously naming Julian Alaphilippe as the leader for the World Championships, French national coach Cyrille Guimard has confirmed his remaining riders for the September 24 race. The French team hasn't medalled at the World Championships since 2005 but Guimard has named a squad capable of reaching the Bergen podium.
With 34 medals at the Worlds, France is historically the third most successful nation but is currently experiencing its longest-ever drought between podiums. With Romain Bardet and Thibaut Pinot returning French riders to the Tour de France podium in recent years, Guimard has selected a squad capable of similar results in the quest for a rainbow jersey.
Alaphilippe, who has recovered from a knee injury that saw him miss the Tour, is the leader for the 276.5m race. He has shown his pre-Worlds form and condition with a stage win at the Vuelta a Espana and aggressive riding at the Spanish Grand Tour. Alaphilippe made his Worlds debut in 2015, recording a DNF, and has finished second at the European Championships and fourth at the Olympic Games since for France.
Third at Milan-San Remo in the spring, the QuickStep-Floors rider has proven his capabilities over long distance and will be dangerous in a small bunch sprint.
"I have spoken with the lads and the feeling between them is excellent," said Guimard in August. "They were the bones of the French team at the 2016 European Championships and they all spoke to me about that race. I have the leader of my team and three close lieutenants around him. The foundations are strong."
Tony Gallopin (Lotto-Soudal) also packs a fast finish for the French squad should the race be decided in a reduced bunch sprint. France will also have options with Tour stage winners Warren Barguil (Sunweb) and Lilian Calmejane (Direct Energie) with 'Salmon Hill' suited to their characteristics. Alexis Gougeard (AG2R-La Mondiale), the sole rider selected for the time trial, provides an option for a breakaway and is a strong rider during the flatter sections of the course. Teammate and national time trial champion Pierre Latour continues his recovery from a fractured pelvis sustained at the Tour.
Experienced duo Cyril Gautier (AG2R-La Mondiale) and Julien Simon (Cofidis) round out the squad.
Bardet, Pinot, and sprinters Arnaud Demare (FDJ) and Nacer Bouhanni (Cofidis) have not been selected by Guimard, who is backing in Alaphilippe to end France's bid for the Worlds podium.
French team for 2017 World Championships: Julian Alaphilippe (QuickStep Floors), Warren Barguil (Sunweb), Lilian Calmejane (Direct Energie), Cyril Gautier (AG2R-La Mondiale), Olivier Le Gac (FDJ), Alexis Gougeard (AG2R-La Mondiale), Tony Gallopin (Lotto-Soudal), Anthony Roux (FDJ), and Julien Simon (Cofidis).
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