It was the head of the bad days. Defending champions through Evita Muzic, FDJ-Nouvelle Aquitaine-Futuroscope missed out on defending their title in Cholet (see ranking). A real setback after a largely successful start to the season. “Since the start of the season we have been running well, whether physically or tactically. Today, we had some physical failures. We had some good collective reflexes but we lacked composure, we were beaten by stronger than us. There were really two athletes above the lot even if I think Jade Wiel was having a great day”, concedes Stephen Delcourt, manager of the WorldTeam. No wonder the runner in question let her tears flow after the line. “I had good legs, I don’t understand, it happened too fast. In a quarter of a second the race went to the wrong side. I can’t understand. I think I need to see what happened”.
Jade Wiel timidly tries to understand. “We wanted to look behind too much. Sometimes looking behind, we run out of time, and that was not good. I don’t know what to say”. Stephen Delcourt notes “a mental failure. I think some of them wanted more than us to win the jersey”. The fault is tactical errors. “There were some throughout the race. We let groups go out without us, in the end we lacked composure. We didn’t have the hoped-for”. Until these last moments of the race, when Eugénie Duval attacked, leaving Jade Wiel on the spot, before she was countered. “We managed to hold on, and they were having fun making breaks. Eugenie attacked to get Gladys, with Audrey in the wheel, and I didn’t manage to go. She attacked me and I’m stayed put. She didn’t see that she was taking Audrey away. Then she countered and then I knew it was over. I couldn’t scream. “Eugenie, look behind”it was not discreet”.
“IT’S DIFFICULT TO DIGEST”
Stephen Delcourt finds him some leads. “Since the start of the season, tactically, we have been good. We failed in a French Championship but we know that it is the hardest race. We lose automatisms because it is rare for the seven to run together. there was no headset too. I thought the group was mature enough for that, in the end it shows us that we have a lot of tactical work to do and that we got through it.”. And this even when the FDJ-Nouvelle Aquitaine-Futuroscope collective was feared on paper. “We have talent, we are the strongest. We assume our leadership, it’s just that today was not a good day and we lacked aggressiveness”. A little setback for everyone in the team. “We took a big hit in the head, we had been on the euphoria since the start of the season. We won nine times and maybe we forgot that we hated losing”.
In the finish area, in addition to the grimace soup, there is a little electricity in the air to accompany the heavy downpour that spiced up the arrival of the runners. “You can’t react in a hurry. There are too many feelings, hatred, anger and shame. You have to let go. Failure is part of sport. To know how to win, you have to know how to lose. During the race everyone thought that we were going to dominate everything and that the title could not escape us”. Jade Wiel also believed in it. “I said (to Eugénie Duval, Editor’s note) “you look at one, I look at the other”. We could win, I could win, Eugenie could win. It’s a race where you go through all the emotions. I tell myself that it can not go to the end. The leaders are coming back and I tell myself that it smells really good. And in a split-second decision everything changes, so it’s hard to digest”.
“WE SAW A TEAM THAT WAS VERY FAR FROM BEING A GREAT TEAM”
It now remains to use this bad day to bounce back. “It’s frustrating but it’s at times like this that we consolidate the group to go for the next victories. We had three goals to come, the French Championship, the Giro and the Tour. We missed some one so now we have no choice”, launches Stephen Delcourt. This experience should not upset the next two major meetings mentioned by the manager. “We can’t draw conclusions about a race. It can answer a few question marks, but not even. Our objective is to play for the general classification of the two Grand Tours”. The composition and the places of each will not be upset after this failure. “We have our Giro selection which is made and that of the Tour which will be refined. We have our leader who is Cecilie Uttrup Ludwig. Marta Cavalli and Evita Muzic will be there to support her. Grace Brown will be present as captain”.
Everything will be forgotten on Thursday, at the start of the Giro. “We will be keen to show that we are one of the best teams in the world, because today we saw a team that was very far from being a great team. It’s part of the game”. Stephen Delcourt manages to conclude on a positive note. “It’s the team’s first failure at the start of the season. It’s a collective failure in a race that is particularly close to our hearts. They are not going to stop there, they are winners. I want us to let’s take the time to debrief and build our next victories on tactical errors that cost us dearly”. Locked in the truck, the group took the time to chat for a long time after the arrival, to put things straight. “It doesn’t change anything for us, today we lost a battle but not the war”.