Who will succeed Rémi Cavagna (Quick Step-Alpha Vinyl)? This is the challenge of the 111th French men’s cycling championships, which take place on Sunday June 26 in Cholet (and on the outskirts), which is hosting the race for the first time.
Last year, the hilly Vosges route around Epinal crowned the Auvergne rider. This time, one week before the big start of the Tour de France 2022 in Denmark, the French champion’s tricolor jersey is promised to a sprinter.
Four times stage city of the Tour de France (1936, 1998, 2008, 2018), and annual organizer of the Cholet-Pays de la Loire race, the sub-prefecture of Maine-et-Loire is hosting the French championships for the first time . For the occasion, and as tradition dictates, the organizers have drawn a route in the form of a loop.
This is how the runners will take twelve times the 20 km urban route drawn in Cholet and its surroundings, for a total of 240 km. Length then, and that’s about all. Because apart from a false rising flat, there is no “difficulty” to report. In other words, the 2022 French champion has a good chance of being a pure sprinter.
As with each edition of the French championships for many years, the horde of riders from Groupama-FDJ (the most represented team) will be a scarecrow. And at the head of the armada of Marc Madiot’s men, Arnaud Démare will be the big favourite. Winner of three stages in the last Giro, the sprinter will aim for a fourth national title, after those of 2014, 2017 and 2020.
In his wheel, “Nono” will particularly watch Bryan Coquard (Cofidis) and Hugo Hofstetter (Arkea-Samsic), his main rivals. But the competition could also come from his camp, with the young Paul Penhoët (Groupama-FDJ), head of the gondola of the new generation of French sprint with Axel Zingle (Cofidis), Hugo Page (Intermarché-Wanty Gobert), Jason Tesson ( Saint-Michel Auber 93) and Matis Louvel (Arkea-Samsic).
He will probably not be crowned champion of France, but who cares: even if he won it, he would not wear the tricolor jersey, since his rainbow world champion tunic covers it in cycling protocol . Anyway, Julian Alaphilippe (Quick Step-Alpha Vinyl) does not initially come to Cholet for this (unlike last season at Epinal).
Two months after his heavy fall in Liège-Bastogne-Liège, Julian Alaphilippe will be there above all to resume competition. It will indeed be the first race for the world champion since he finished in a ditch on the Dean of the Classics, his main objective at the start of the season. In the recovery phase, the troublemaker of the month of July hopes above all to regain form a week before a Tour on which he has not given up, but where his state of form remains uncertain.
Schedules and TV broadcast
The start of the men’s road race will be given at 10:50 am. The race will be followed from 3:15 p.m. on France 3, with an expected arrival shortly before 5 p.m.