Thomas Voeckler: “We are in an outsider role” in Tokyo

In full in Tokyo since last Monday, the French road cycling team has taken its first steps on Japanese soil. David Gaudu, Guillaume Martin, Kenny Elissonde, Benoît Cosnefroy and Rémi Cavagna have a few days of acclimatization before the online race scheduled for Saturday July 24, then the time trial on the 27th. Fatigue, leaders, ambitions … Thomas Voeckler, the French coach, took stock of the situation on Tuesday for News i: sport.

Franceinfo sport: This Tuesday you made your first outing with the four riders who left the Tour de France. Did you digest the transition between the Tour and the arrival in Japan, with the fatigue and the jet lag?

Thomas voeckler : We will have the answer later. For the first day, it’s pretty much what we expected. The logistics that we have put in place have borne fruit in any case as we speak. Regarding the constraints of the Tour and the trip, we are in the best possible conditions.

What is the program until the race on Saturday?

We will recognize the course with the runners. Not in its entirety because the fatigue that it would generate would not be worth the gain we would derive from it. The first part of the route in Tokyo is not essential for me. We will focus on the parts that are in my eyes the most strategic of the course. This Wednesday, a new active recovery outing is planned. Thursday will be a little more muscular, but without any possible comparison with what the riders have done for three weeks.

For Rémi Cavagna, the approach is undoubtedly different since he was not present on the Tour …

Yes. I asked each coach of each runner to provide me with each individual’s schedule. Then, it’s up to me to pool together to have collective time. As each runner is a special case, you have to adapt to what is best for him. I do not take care of the training but of the notion of collective. Far be it from me to tell them how to train five days from the deadline.

David Gaudu and Guillaume Martin are notably present in the team: has a leader already been appointed?

I can not tell you. In my head I know it. However, I haven’t spoken to them yet. They themselves do not know. It’s voluntary, I want them to disconnect a little bit from the Tour de France mentally before being conditioned.

In Imola, we saw France crowned with an offensive tactic, should we expect to see the same thing in Tokyo?

I don’t want to give away any secrets, but we are not favorites. We don’t have one of the guys named among the two-three favorites, unlike Imola. This is not to offend my group, it is the truth. The strategy will obviously not be the same as in Imola.

Among the crowd of competitors, where do you place France, in an outsider role?

Yes, we will be in an outsider role, and this is not com ‘. When you see what is in front, you have to be objective. Let’s be frank, we are not among the favorites. I have two words to describe the ambitions of my team, they are ‘humility’ and ‘ambition’.

What exactly do you think are the most dangerous selections?

Belgium, Slovenia and Italy I would say. The list is not exhaustive.

Regarding the race scenario, should we expect it to be less padlocked knowing that the most significant numbers will no longer be eight but a maximum of five?

Of course. It’s totally different for a coach to have five runners and not eight. You cannot compare the race of the world championships with that of the Olympic Games.

You took part in the Olympic Games, finishing best French in 2004 (20th). What can you pass on to your runners from this experience?

Not much except the privilege of being there. It’s a great chance and I think they are aware of it given the return which was theirs, when I announced their selection. The times and the context are too different. We may not be favorites this time, but we have more ambitions than in 2004. Besides, I remember when Axel Merckx came out for the bronze medal, maybe I had the means to do it. … Even if we don’t have Romain Bardet, Julian Alaphilippe or Thibaut Pinot on such a circuit, we still have leading riders with us. The French bike is lucky to have elements that can aim higher than us in 2004.

Are dreams of a medal more concrete in the time trial with Rémi Cavagna?

We are lucky to have a rider who is above the rest in this discipline in France. It would have been unfair not to give him a chance given his consistency at the highest level since last year. It is also progressing. It is the test of truth, it does not forgive. Afterwards, it’s so strange in Japan with this climate … Me, I’m convinced that we have someone who is medalist but who can very well finish 8th or 15th.

Interview on Tuesday, July 20

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