Tony Gallopin is looking forward to serving a classics apprenticeship under Fabian Cancellara at RadioShack-Nissan next season, but the Frenchman is also hopeful that he will have the chance to chase his own ambitions at his new team.
“In the team, there are a lot of climbers around the Schlecks, but there were places to be filled for the classics,” Gallopin told L’Équipe. “My role will be to help Cancellara, I have a lovely programme up until Paris-Roubaix. With a leader like him, it’s really worth it.”
The 23-year-old Gallopin enjoyed a solid 2011, taking overall victory in the Coupe de France, thanks to victory in the Flèche d’Émeraude and a series of high placings in the remainder of the events. He is keen to progress on the international stage next season, after his move from Cofidis.
“Why not win a semi-classic? If I do the maximum for the team, I think that it will returned if the occasions presents itself for me,” he said. “And then there are also the Olympics, the Vuelta and Valkenburg (site of the world championships – ed.)”
Gallopin acknowledged that a place in RadioShack’s Tour de France roster may well be beyond him in his first season at the team, but explained that he would gladly swap a Tour start for a place in the French squad for the Olympics.
“I’m focused on the classics, and when you see the team at RadioShack, the Tour can’t be a priority for me, so I won’t necessarily be disappointed if I don’t do it,” he said. “For now, nobody has spoken to me about it. I’ll only be 24 next year, I have plenty of time.
“And if I had the choice between being selected for the Olympics or the Tour, I’d pick the Olympics without hesitating. At the moment, I don’t know if Laurent Jalabert will want riders who have ridden the Tour.”
Gallopin was feted as 2011 Coupe de France champion at a ceremony in Vincennes on Friday night, and he follows in the footsteps of some famous winners of the season-long competition, including Thor Hushovd (2004) and Philippe Gilbert (2005).
“It’s encouraging,” he said. “Without having any pretensions of reaching the same level, Gilbert is the kind of rider who is a model for me. It’s in that field that I want to try and progress.”