[Cyclisme] Change of direction for Tom Paquet

The 20-year-old Luxembourg hope is leaving the continental team of Nantes. His new destination will soon be known.

With 39 days of racing, mainly contested in France, Tom Paquet, the Luxembourger who plays for U Nantes Atlantique, draws up a mixed assessment of his exercise.

“I had a season with ups and downs. With more lows than highs, unfortunately. I had more expectations. I had good passages like the Flèche du Sud (Editor’s note: he finished 7e of the final classification and was best Luxembourger) or Ghent-Wevelgem (16e). I have been through a lot this season. I haven’t run a lot with my team, U Nantes Atlantique. I would have liked to run more. It often happened that I didn’t run for three or four weeks in a row. This year, I lined up for a lot of Coupe de France rounds, tough races. With the hunt for UCI points, I found the level very high. So it’s hard to pick up the pace and I gave up quite a bit in the middle of the season. I entered a vicious circle. Mentally, I wasn’t 200% focused on performance. At a high level, it can be seen immediately in the results, ”he analyzes without taking any detours.

“I can only say that I will no longer be in Nantes”

The little puncher does not beat around the bush. We invite him to clarify his thoughts. He jumps at the chance with both feet. “Next season I’m changing teams but it’s not official yet. I can just say that I will no longer be in Nantes, ”he says.

In Luxembourg in recent weeks, the rumor sent him either to Tudor, the new team of Fabian Cancellara where Arthur Kluckers and Luc Wirtgen are expected, or to Leopard which merges with Riwal. He smiles at this evocation, but remains faithful to the principle of not revealing anything before the formalization of his new team. We take note, this little guy is a man of his word.

We then invite him to rewind the film of his 2022 season, even if we hear some personal pain coming to the surface. “It was my first year in the pros, I had to learn a lot. We still hope to get a podium of good places. It was difficult for me this year, but I’m not giving up, I still learned a lot. You learn from your mistakes, I think it will pay off for the future. There are advantages to signing in a French continental team, but there are also disadvantages, the program is very tough. I think that next season, with the Belgian races, I will have more races that suit me”, he dissects meticulously.

The contribution of Jempy Drucker and Frank Schleck

On the other hand, the races contested under the jersey of the national team gave him downright balm to the heart. “I enjoyed it very much. We’re lucky to have Jempy Drucker and Frank Schleck. They brought us a lot at the collective level, an area where we were fishing a little before. We have taken a big step forward. It was pro, they took great care of us, it’s great. They are very involved with us, we feel that they are trying to make us progress individually but also collectively. I found it great. Without a team, it’s difficult to win, ”insists Tom Paquet, who we will therefore see again in 2023 under the Luxembourg knitwear.

“The 2023 season, he continues, I will be a third-year hopeful and I find it interesting to be able to do it during the season, to regain confidence. Confidence is something very important in the world of sport. If you don’t have self-confidence, you can’t move forward. »

“I know that we will be at the start of some great races”

Moving forward is what he will therefore urgently seek to do. Moreover, he will soon return to training. « It’s scheduled for next week. The weather makes you want to start again, ”notes the impatient.

Of course, there will be group internships. “With the team where I signed, it is sure that we will do an internship in January. Personally, I plan to leave in mid-December to chain the kilometers and change training routes, which is always good to prevent routine, « says Tom Paquet who does not know in detail the program of his new training. . “I know that we will be at the start of some great races,” assures Tom Paquet.

Cyclo-cross for this winter

This winter, it is not excluded that we meet him in some cyclo-cross events. “I could line up in two or three races, not for the cross, but to improve the training, and to have a little more punch at the start of the season. You won’t see me on ten crosses either, ”he says.

It’s not yet time for wishes, but Tom Paquet formulates one by way of conclusion: « Next year, I would like to do great things, both with my new team and with the national team. » Here he is perked up!

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