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Jalabert aiming for Frenchman on Worlds podium

Sylvain Chavanel (Quick Step) jubilant on the podium at the Tour.

Sylvain Chavanel (Quick Step) jubilant on the podium at the Tour. (Image credit: Bettini Photo)

French national team selector Laurent Jalabert is still aiming to put a Frenchman on the podium at the world championships in October, even though GP Quebec winner Thomas Voeckler has declined to compete.

Jalabert concedes that a podium placing is a long shot even with dual Tour de France stage winner Sylvain Chavanel on the team's roster for the championships, which take place September 29-October 3 in Geelong near Melbourne, Australia.

"Chavanel will be the leader, but he perhaps lacks the freshness and rhythm he needs," Jalabert told AFP. Lacking a one-day specialist like "Belgium’s Philippe Gilbert, Italian Filippo Pozzato or Russian Alexandr Kolobnev, who are all capable of making a decisive break on a tough climb,” Jalabert said his team could have used Voeckler.

“Voeckler’s selection for me was all but a certainty as he is the French champion, but he rang me at the end of August to tell me that he hadn’t really got the mindset to compete in the championships. After Friday’s race in Quebec, I tried to convince him otherwise," Jalabert said.

“It is a shame that he doesn’t want to come but I understand. He says he is exhausted after a long season.”

Jalabert will instead look to Chavanel or sprinter Romain Feillu for the road race, hoping for a podium finish at best. "But I am remaining realistic. Without underestimating our riders abilities, when did we manage a podium finish in a Classic this year? In fact when was the last time that a Frenchman finished in the top three in a Classic?

“I know that under those circumstances I am asking for quite an exploit and there will have to be favorable circumstances.”

France for the world championships:

Road race: Sylvain Chavanel, Romain Feillu, William Bonnet, Cyril Gautier, Anthony Geslin, Sebastien Hinault, Yoann Offredo
Time trial: Sylvain Chavanel, Nicolas Vogondy