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"It is the World Tour races that make me feel that I do not have the shoulders to be a leader all year. I cannot stand the pressure all the time. I did not feel that I want to be a teammate all the time either."

Photo: Sirotti

ANTHONY ROUX

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GROUPAMA-FDJ

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11.11.2016 @ 16:14 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

It is rare that Anthony Roux ends a season without a victory but that’s what happened in 2016. Nonetheless, the FDJ rider is very satisfied with the past year that saw him get beautiful results while also working for Thibaut Pinot. A little over a month after undergoig surgery of the nasal septum, he finally knows exactly what his place in the team is and prepares for 2017 with serenity and calmness.

 

”I was operated in Hyères two days after the Tour of Lombardy,” he said in an interview with his team. “The surgeon has fixed the right nasal septum. I had many illnesses. I have used him for three years. He gave me laser sessions but the effect only lasted two weeks. I stayed in the hospital for three days, I wore braces in the nose for two weeks and I was advised to spend four weeks without sport. It was at the time of my break. I think it will help me a lot when it comes to breathing.  I was often sick. This will start to have its effects, I feel it. The surgeon told me it was a rather long process.”

 

The surgery prompted him to skip the World TT Championships.

 

“I have no regrets,” he said. “I felt a little out of breath, I no longer had the peak shape from Canada and the European Championships. I was still in good shape but I was eager to stop. Well, if I had accepted the selection the head would probably have taken over but I wanted to end here. I had to make a choice. I'm glad it did not compromise my recovery.”

 

Roux is still pleased with his season.

 

“I would have liked to win a race because I'm used to it but the season was good,” he said. “It was not the best either since I did not win but it was rich despite a small bronchitis. I have not had a crash, I have not had dips in form, I managed to make small peaks of form. I found my place in the team this year.

 

“It is difficult to be leader but also to have the confidence of everybody. In 2011, I got six wins, I had a small role as a leader but then I fell in a cyclo-cross race in which I broke some vertebrae which stopped me. It took me time to rebuild again. Other leaders arrived. In 2011, there were no Vichot, no Pinot and no Démare. Now we have them. I have found my place, I love working for Thibaut. I have accepted other tasks. I'm not made to be leading at 100% but I want to still do so at 30%. I did so this year. We have evolved, the team and myself.

 

“I did all the early season for Thibaut except in the Ardennes classics that did not go well. After the Tour, I have done the Clasica San Sebastian as a leader. I finished near the top 10 in a WorldTour classic. This 11th place gave me the confidence for Canada where I responded well.

 

“Working for Pinot is the assurance of having results but I get on well with him. It was a good feeling. My work has been focused on stage races, in a role that is not mine when I think of myself. It makes me feel free. When I go to the Basque Country, I'm not there to ride for myself. I do my job and it benefits me late. Now I hope the team will remember my third place in Quebec. I mature. It is the World Tour races that make me feel that I do not have the shoulders to be a leader all year. I cannot stand the pressure all the time. I did not feel that I want to be a teammate all the time either.

 

“I am aware of my ability but sometimes I'm not at my place and I try to understand that. This is often my fault. In my mind, the podium in Quebec is not trivial. This year it has made me evolve. I doubt myself. It is a circle that needs to function well. I'm sure of my legs but they are not enough to win races.”

 

Roux has no doubt about his favourite moment of the year.

 

“My best memory is Quebec without doubt. The podium there was great because I think I could not do better. There are also the French Time Trial Championships. At the finish, I saw Thibaut. I realized that we had done something and there was a great emotion,” he said, referring to the 1-2 that he and Pinot delivered in the race against the clock.”

 

In Quebec, Roux was third behind Peter Sagan and Greg Van Avermaet.

 

“It is not an innate quality, it's true,” he said when asked about his ability to get results at that level. “I'm not up there with Julian Alaphilippe or Peter Sagan who are always there and do not make a mistake. I often lose out not because of my legs. It must be said that in the WorldTour, it is important to stay calm and it is hard if I have not had a team in my service at the start of a race. If I manage it alone, I will miss the legs in the finale. You have to ride economically. It is difficult to make results without help. If I find myself in the same situation as at the Grand Prix of Quebec, I will take my responsibilities. Circuit racing works for me.”

 

For years, Roux has been a good, albeit very inconsistent, time triallist.

 

“For years, I have done great time trials and other than suck,” he said. “The key point is the French Championships. I prepare well and in the same way every year and sometimes it does not work. Stress also counts a lot: I told myself that I am capable and it can make me get nervous. A time trial is special and I am not Cancellara either. I am a good time triallist but that is not enough. In Vesoul [at the French Championships], I liked the course the heat too when others have suffered. At the European Championships in Plumelec, I did a big performance. 5thplace was good but there was not a gigantic field except for Castroviejo who is vice-world champion. Well, I tell myself that I have to stop getting nervous but sometimes I need to be calm, without negative pressure.”

 

Roux has now turned his attention to 2017.

 

“I just spent a week in Lorraine with my family and I returned last week because I asked to do the Tour Down Under in Australia in January. I like it and it suits me. We Europeans are a bit disadvantaged. So I know I'm going to be serious from the beginning of December.

 

“In 2016 I had not chosen my schedule and we must wait to see with the WorldTour calendar in 2017. Anyway, the Grand Tours will decide the rest.”

 

This year the Tour will visit his home region of Lorraine.

 

“It will visit Lorraine but not only that,” he said. “Belgium and Luxembourg are not far from Verdun, in the Vosges region which I know well. We will go to Troyes where my parents live and to Marseille close to the family. It makes you want to go there. And there is this stage in Longwy where I've won at the Circuit de Lorraine. I also saw the route of the Giro with Sardinia, Sicily where I'm going on holiday in southern Italy. It's very tempting. My desire is to do at least one Grand Tour a year but I cannot focus on it because it serves no purpose and I must accept the choice of the team.”

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