What are the climatic conditions where you are?
It is hot (over 30 degrees in the shade, 36 on the Tokyo side), there is humidity but it is less important than expected. Let’s say it’s less worse than we feared.
Have you recognized the Olympic route?
Part today (Wednesday). We recognized the final. Tomorrow, we will do the other part, the last third of the course. The finish is in line with what we expected with a final slope, the top of which is located 29 kilometers from the finish. Ten terminals at 6.5% average and one passage at 18%. In other words, it’s no surprise.
Is it comparable to a mountain stage?
No, I’m not saying that. So, it’s true, we are approaching 5,000 m of vertical drop, there are 230 kilometers, but it’s a one-day race and it is therefore not comparable to a mountain stage. It is a separate journey.
What kind of race do you expect on Saturday?
I have an idea in mind but I don’t want to express myself on it. But it will not be a race like any other: because it is the race of the Olympic Games and there is the course, the climate … When you go from eight to five riders in a team, it is not the same.
In your opinion, to perform in Tokyo, it was better not to do the Tour, to abandon it along the way or to finish it?
I do not have the answer. I would have liked a top rider at the world level who competed in the Tour of Italy and who would have been there without the fatigue of the Tour de France (he refers to Romain Bardet). It would have allowed me to play on two fronts. Afterwards, all his speculations are fine, we will have the answer on Saturday.
Is there a big favorite?
Everyone will answer Pogacar. Personally, I take care of my team. From there to come out Pogacar, Van Aert, Roglic also who does not need to run a lot to be in shape, Vingegaard, Mollema… Also watch out for a runner like the Italian Ciccone.
What are the ambitions of the France team?
We will not have the same strategy as in Imola (during the coronation of Julian Alaphilippe). When it comes to ambitions, when you see the opposition, it would be selling a dream to say that you are aiming for Olympic gold. Now this is the only race where, in my eyes, there are three places that count and not one. Does this mean that we are aiming for a medal? This is not what I am saying. You have to know how to stay in your place. We have ambitions but we have even more humility. Anyone who does not see that there are riders intrinsically superior to the elements of the France team is not objective. This does not mean either that we leave to make 15th. I have confidence in my troops. I don’t want to sell dreams but …
Does the France team have a leader?
We’ll see on Saturday. I don’t want to say it and, to be honest, it’s not established yet. Let’s say it’s well advanced.
What do you expect from David Gaudu?
That he is in the same line in terms of physical form as last week on the Tour de France. I loved its state of freshness at the end of the Tour.
He doesn’t hide it, he says he’s aiming for a medal …
So much the better. He doesn’t have to have an inferiority complex. And then someone who tells me he’s coming to do 10th, that doesn’t interest me. Having said that, many have this goal, there are only three that will achieve it.
Does the route suit him?
Yes. Honestly Yes. Considering his characteristics, it would have been difficult to do a course that suited him better.
What did you think of his Tour de France?
Without his two magnificent performances in the Pyrenees, he would have had a bitter taste. But he did. He is at the gates of the top 10 having taken a burst on the day of Ventoux because he had gastric problems. He lived up to it. I found him in good shape here, he is smiling. This is the David we like.
Do you feel the same pressure as before the Worlds and the coronation of Julian Alaphilippe?
No no. The message that I give to the guys is to have ambition and that there is no pressure. They have a chance to seize insofar as Julian Alaphilippe is not there.
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