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"In fact, I have said that if I finish on the podium in the Giro, I will be back in 2017 to go for the Vuelta but it is unlikely."

Photo: Sirotti




04.12.2015 @ 13:21 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

Jean-Christophe Peraud delivered a major surprise when he finished second in the 2014 Tour de France. This year he aims for the podium in the Giro d'Italia in what is set to be his final year but the Frenchman now opens the door for another season in the peloton if he reaches his goal in Italy.


After his fantastic 2014 season, Peraud had a terrible 2015 season when his overall win in the Criterium International was the only real highlight. He was off the pace in the Tour and then suffered in the second half due to the injuries sustained in a bad crash.


Peraud has always made it clear that he wants to target the Giro d'Italia once before he ends his career and last summer he announced that 2016 would be the time for him to make his debut in the Italian race. At the same time, he expressed his desire to retire at the end of the year.


However, the Giro is not the only goal in 2016. Peraud is a silver medallist in mountain biking from the 2008 Olympics and in 2016 he wants to represent France in the road events in Rio.



"Being here clearly gives me the moral because I have a special affinity with the Olympic Games," he told CyclingPro.nert at the first Ag2r training camp. "It is an event that makes me dream. I am very motivated, I think a lot about it. I'd really like to be there. I like the course but it is suitable for many and unfortunately there are only four places. There is also the time trial that is particularly interesting to me. Normally this is my last year so I want to go out through the front door with beautiful memories.


"I have the experience which can be an advantage for me but it is especially a motivator. Above all, I want to find my legs from 2014. I want to go to the Games but it will come based on the success of my early season. If I can not find my level of last year, I do not claim to deserve a spot in Rio."


As he will skip the Tour, Peraud will have a different preparation than most.



"I come from mountain biking and we are used to prepare for a specific event," he said. "I will do some races but I want to stay away from the euphoria of the Tour to prepare for the Olympics if I am selected. I plan to do the Tour of Poland and the Clasica San Sebastian to fine-tune my preparation. I believe in that planning. I hope it will even be an advantage."


That means that the 2015 Tour was his last appearance in his home race.


"The last was in 2014 Tour, wasn't it?" he asked with a laugh "It would have been better to finish in 2014 but I cannot rewrite the past. I have no regrets but I am very disappointed with the result.



"The victory [in Criterium International] was completely by chance. It is a tree that hides the forest. My season was catastrophic. I hope this will be a transition year to bounce back and reach the heights of 2014."


For now, Peraud is focused on the Giro.


"It will be my first participation," he said. "I have a great desire for that three-week race. I see myself as a Grand Tour rider and I want to do well there. I will try to aim for the podium. It will depend on the competition, racing circumstances and weather conditions. I will start with the objective of the podium."


Peraud will share the Ag2r leadership with Domenico Pozzovivo.



"Yes, we will be two leaders and the race will then decide," he said. "This is a situation that I know and which I am used to. It's more comfortable and it brings serenity. The course may especially suit me because there is a prologue and two time trial. It plays into my favor. We will also ride on French roads with the Col de Vars and Risoul which is a good memory for me (he was the only rider who could follow Vincenzo Nibali onthe 14th stage of the 2014 Tour, ed.)


"I also have a little anxiety because I have never been able to ride in May. I will have to be at my best there so I am going through a schedule that I do not known at all. It is a step into the void. However, I will do a classic start to the season with the Tour de San Luis, the Mediterranean Tour, Boucles du Sud-Ardèche, Tirreno-Adriatico and the Volta a Catalunya which is also new to me and which will precede the preparation for the Giro."


Peraud made the decision to retire in 2015.



"It probably happened last year because of my poor results," he said. "I still have the desire and motivation but 2015 was really a tough year. I do not have the will to being anonymous in the bunch so I want to finish with pleasure."


However, Peraud now opens the door to possibly continuing for another year.


"In fact, I have said that if I finish on the podium in the Giro, I will be back in 2017 to go for the Vuelta but it is unlikely.


"Of course it would involve the risk that it could all go bad again but if I am back on the podium of a Grand Tour, I should try to take part in the Vuelta at 100% of my capabilities which I have never done."


If he is to retire at the end of 2016, he has not selected a specific event to bid farewell.


"I have not thought about that yet," he said. "To finish with a medal at the Olympics would be a dream. It depends on the level of performance. I want to finish with good memories and it will be linked to my physical level. If I am fit, I will continue the season to try to make beautiful things. Otherwise, I would want to stop quickly.



"The are many riders that will retire and there will be a revival of cycling but I do not include myself on the list with Fabian Cancellara and Alberto Contador because I arrived with the younger generation [after coming from mountain bike]."



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