The 24-year-old was named as a reserve on Monday as head coach Bernard Bourreau unveiled his nine-man team, which will be headlined by Nacer Bouhanni (Cofidis) and Arnaud Demare (FDJ).
With two high-profile names and old foes in the running, almost guaranteeing leadership headaches, there was no room for a third sprinter for the flat 257km course in Qatar.
“It’s a huge disappointment, but it is what it is,” Coquard told L’Equipe today.
“Choices had to be made. He [Bourreau] called me and justified it with the fact that Cofidis and FDJ had, in his view, more experience than Direct Energie in the Classics and the Tour of Qatar. I’ve never ridden in Qatar and that certainly counted against me.
“I could say today that it would have been better to take three sprinters, but that seems a bit complicated. From a sporting perspective I think it’s better with two.”
Coquard has won 11 sprints this season, and if you factor in his overall wins at the Four Days of Dunkirk and Boucles de la Mayenne, he has as many victories to his name as Bouhanni (9) and Demare (4) combined.
Bouhanni, however, has generally won at a higher level, while Demare proved his ability finish it off at the end of a long one-day race with his Milan-San Remo victory. Coquard hasn’t won since June but came agonisingly close to the biggest scalp of his career when he lost out to Marcel Kittel on stage 4 of the Tour de France in one of the tightest photo finishes you’re likely to see.
“I did the whole start of the season at full gas, despite having broken my shoulder blade. I was solid in the Classics, I was in the first split at Gent-Wevelgem, I won lots of races – what more could I have done?
“I maybe should have got back out their sooner in order to win at the Tour du Poitou-Charentres but after the Tour de France I preferred to have a break to then reach the Worlds in top form. It’s a pain in the arse because it’s all I’ve been thinking about since the Tour.”
Coquard will hope to add to his results sheet before the season is out at the Tour de Vendée and Paris-Tours.
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