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In a hugely exciting battle, Coppel took over the title as French time trial champion by beating Rossetto by just three seconds and multiple champion Chavanel by seven seconds

Photo: IAM Cycling

IAM CYCLING

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JEROME COPPEL

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NATIONAL CHAMPIONSSHIPS

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STEPHANE ROSSETTO

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SYLVAIN CHAVANEL

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25.06.2015 @ 18:00 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

Jerome Coppel (IAM) confirmed that he is back to his best after a few difficult seasons when he took his first French national title at the time trial championships in Chantonnay. In a hugely exciting battle, he beat Stephane Rossetto (Cofidis) by just two seconds and three-time defending champion and teammate Sylvain Chavanel by another five seconds and will wear the tricolor jersey when he rolls down the start ramp for the opening stage of the Tour de France in Utrecht.

 

A few years ago Jerome Coppel was regarded as one of the next big French grand tour riders but after he showed lots of promise by nearly making it into the top 10 as the Sojasun leader, his progress has stalled. He tried to restart his career by joining Cofidis where he would have less pressure but that move didn’t pay off.

 

Coppel has done nothing to hide that he has no ambitions of being a team leader and so he signed with the IAM team for the 2015 season. Here he will have a different role as a key domestique for Mathias Frank.

 

Unfortunately, he got the season off to a bad start when he crashed out of the Vuelta al Pais Vaco and he was unable to compete until he finally made his comeback in the Tour de Suisse. He immediately returned to form as he finished in the top 15 in both time trials and this made him one to watch in today’s French time trial championships.

 

To claim the title, he had to beat his teammate, three-time defending champions Sylvain Chavanel but it all came together for Coppel who was one of only two riders to cover the hilly 47.2km course in Chantonnay in less than one hour. He beat Stephane Rossetto by just two seconds to take the win while Chavanel had to settle for third with a time loss of 7 seconds to his teammate.

 

Most of the day had been dominated by amateur rider Thomas Rostollan who had been an early starter and had posted a time of 1.00.22 that turned out to be very hard to beat. It wasn’t until the professional riders started the stage that his time came under threat, with Thomas Voeckler (Europcar) slotted into second with a time of 1.00.40.

 

Anthony Delaplace (Bretagne) got close to Voeckler’s time but had to settle for third before Romain Sicard (Europcar) gave Rostollan a scare. The Frenchman missed out on the lead by just fractions of a second but showed that he is ready for the Tour de France.

 

Alexis Gougeard (Ag2r) also missed out on the lead as he had to settle for third with a time of 1.00.27 and instead it was Rossetto who finally went faster than Rostollan. Having shown good form in the Route du Sud, he stopped the clock in 59.58 to become the first rider to break the one-hour barrier.

 

However, it was clear that a close battle was in store as Rossetto and Coppel had posted the exact same time at the 33km mark. In the end, Coppel was slightly faster as he lowered the mark by three seconds and so just had to wait for the final three riders to finish their ride before he could step onto the top step of the podium.

 

Jean-Christophe Peraud (Ag2r) abandoned the stage and as Anthony Roux (FDJ) was far off the pace, only Chavanel could prevent Coppel from winning the stage. As he had been 17 seconds faster at the 33km mark, all was set for another Chavanel win but the Frenchman spectacularly cracked in the finale and missed out on a fourth consecutive title by just 7 seconds.

 

He will get a chance to take revenge on Sunday in the road race championships which is held on a lumpy course around Chantonnay.

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