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TROMSO, Norway — It has been a year to forget for 25-year-old Québécois Antoine Duchesne. The 2013 Canadian road race bronze medallist has endured multiple setbacks in 2017 due to illness and injury and now finds himself looking for a team due to contract issues in August.
“The season so far hasn’t been so great, but I now think the health is back,” Duchesne told Velonews and Eurosport while in Scandinavia racing the Arctic Race of Norway, which was won by 25-year-old Belgian Dylan Teuns of BMC Racing. “Trying to get back in shape, and fitness is not too bad. I’m not 100 percent yet, but coming back nice and slowly with the races.
The Saguenay native found himself recovering from illness during the majority of the summer after falling ill midway through the Tour de Suisse and has just returned to the bike earlier this month with the Tour of Burgos in Spain.
“I did Burgos last week,” explained Duchesne, who dropped from 76 to 68kg due to the sickness. “Every day I’ve been feeling better, but it takes a little while to get back to 100 percent after everything I’ve been through in July, so should be good by end of the [Arctic Race].”
It was the second health issue for the double Canadian U23 national road race champion (2012-2013), who also fell ill at Paris-Nice before returning to the cobbled classics and crashing at Roubaix.
Fresher legs and a renewed focus has the former WorldTour rider (Team Europcar) looking forward to the pair of Grand Prix races in Québec City and Montréal come September.
“Big goal is Québec and Montréal in a month, and I think by that time I should be on top form,” said Duchesne. “That’s pretty much my biggest goal for my home race and try to get 100 percent for that.
“I’ve been keeping that in mind for the last three weeks since I started training again, so trying to really to keep on focus and put myself in the best situation for Québec and Montréal.”
In the meantime, the two-time grand tour starter — and finisher — and 2016 Paris-Nice KOM finds himself riding out his contract with Direct Energie and looking for a team for 2018. It’s a concerning situation, but one that Duchesne believes will end positively with a contract for next year.
“It’s in the making,” said the former Tour de France and Vuelta a España rider. “Hopefully I will have some good news soon.”