Arnaud Gérard: "A race that can change the course of a career"
14 riders from the Arkéa-Samsic team will start the French road championship in Épinal, including Warren Barguil and Nacer Bouhanni who have already won the French title.
“I experienced the joy of a national title very early in my career. It was an exceptional moment, but also a great pride to win this race and to be able to wear the colours of my country for a year. To be its ambassador on the roads. When you win such an event, you wish to be able to experience such happiness again. I am a native of Épinal, it is my town, I will be able to compete for one of the very first times in my career in a French Championship in front of my family and friends. The circuit is on paper favourable, as I said, to the puncheurs-grimpeurs more than to the sprinters, but the characteristic of a sportsman is to always believe in his chances. The goal at the end of the race will be to cross the line without regrets, having done the maximum”.
“I have been crowned twice in a French Championship and the emotions I experienced each time were indescribable. This success makes you enter another sphere, afterwards on the roadside the public is looking for the tricolour jersey. The notoriety of the rider, even if it is already well established, continues to explode. Like every year, all of us French riders are motivated by this race. It is the one that brings together all the best of the country, and in the evening of the event, there is only one chosen. Everyone is also in good shape because we are only one week away from the start of the Tour. After the Critérium du Dauphiné I went to the altitude, to Tignes, in the perspective of the France and the Tour to follow”.
“When you become French Champion, you become the flag bearer of your nation. We riders all dream of these colours. The Friday evening reunion, the day before the race, is different from other competitions because all the French riders in the team are together. It is the only time this happens all year. The atmosphere is different, everyone has this dream of the jersey in a small corner of their head, even if in the last few years only big names have won. Nevertheless, we all continue to dream, to think about it, hoping to experience the day of ‘grace’ the next day.”
” The specificity of the French Championship is that “almost” only the first place counts. Unfortunately, the riders who accompany the winner to the podium each year are rarely remembered! This race can also change the course of a career. The winner wears the jersey for a year, and the title is acquired for life. All the riders on the starting line dream of winning, even if the circle of favourites is well known. This is what makes the magic of this race. The atmosphere is also different, because you are heading towards a tiring, tiring, stressful day, with sometimes a deliverance at the end. There are no earphones and so the pre-race briefing is very important. Here, in Épinal, the course is demanding, it will be a race of placement. You have to be concentrated and vigilant all the time“.