Audrey Cordon-Ragot wins the French National Time Trial Championships
Wiggle Honda Pro Cycling's Audrey Cordon-Ragot has won the French National Time Trial Championships, in Chantonnay, in the Vendée region of France. The 25-year-old, who had taken the silver medal in the last three successive years, completed the 24.7km course in a time of 34 minutes, 59 seconds, at an average speed of 42.352kph. Aude Biannic (Poitou-Charentes Futuroscope) finished second, 23 seconds behind Cordon-Ragot, with road World Champion Pauline Ferrand Prevot taking the bronze medal another 11 seconds back.
"Finally I did it! It was a long wait, and I'm enjoying it maybe more than I would have done if I had won last year, because one year has passed and it has been a long year - a long season. With all my problems from the beginning of the season I couldn't expect this dream, so I"m really happy."
Defending champion Ferrand Prevot had been the fastest over the opening 7km, passing through the timing point five seconds faster than Cordon-Ragot, but the World Champion had gone out too fast. Pacing her ride to perfection, the Wiggle Honda Pro Cycling rider was 20 seconds ahead at the 17.65km mark and - as Ferrand Prevot was slowing - was getting faster.
Cordon-Ragot crossed the line to push Biannic off the hot seat and, with only Ferrand Prevot to finish, soon knew that she had won her first elite national title on the road.
"She was faster than me at the first checkpoint," Cordon-Ragot explained. "But I was not so worried because I took a really slow start. I didn't want to go too fast because I knew it was a really hard lap, so I started not at full gas and tried to do a really strong final. That's what I did, and it worked."
The victory for Cordon-Ragot comes on the back of a strong performance in last week's Aviva Women's Tour. The Frenchwoman spent much of the race working hard for her teammates, but was able to take her own chance on the final stage where she almost managed to hold off the chasing peloton into the uphill finish in Hemel Hempstead.
"I felt strong and I think it's also why I was really confident in this race," she explained. "I knew that in the UK I was feeling really super-good, I had really good legs. Also the ambience of the team was really nice, and I think that's also why I could get a good result."
As the outstanding French rider of the season so far, Cordon-Ragot's time trial victory confirms the 25-year-old as one of the big favourites for Saturday's Road Race Championships. For now, however, the Breton is happy to enjoy her new jersey.
"I think it's possible to do both but, yeah, I don't want to think too much about that," she said. "I just want to wait, and to do my best on Saturday. Of course I'm thinking about both jerseys, but I just want to enjoy this one, and after I will see.
"Of course I see that I have the opportunity to do - as we say in French - le doublé, and if I can do it for sure I will go full gas."
With two time trials in the upcoming Giro d'Italia, Cordon-Ragot is looking forward to the honour of wearing her national colours in the sport's biggest stage race. She will also be able to stand proudly beside her close friend and teammate Elisa Longo Borghini, who holds the Italian Time Trial title.
"I did a promise to Elisa, and I said that we would take a photo in our two tricolore jerseys, and finally we can do it!" Cordon-Ragot laughed. "It's a good place to wear the jersey that's for sure!"
1. Audrey Cordon-Ragot (Wiggle Honda Pro Cycling)
2. Aude Biannic (Poitou-Charentes Futuroscope)
3. Pauline Ferrand Prevot (Rabo-Liv)
Photo Credit: Pascal Lincent