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"So I'm obviously going for glory on Corsica this year. I'll play my hand, hoping everything turns out for the best and I can take the top spot," Jean-Christophe Peraud told ASO.

Photo: Sirotti

AG2R LA MONDIALE

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ALEXIS GOUGEARD

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CHRISTOPHE RIBLON

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CRITÉRIUM INTERNATIONAL

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GUILLAUME BONNAFOND

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HUBERT DUPONT

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JEAN-CHRISTOPHE PÉRAUD

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JULIEN BERARD

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26.03.2014 @ 08:48 Posted by Aleksandra Górska

Performances of AG2R La Mondiale riders in the beginning of 2014 season have to be considered as highly impressive with the likes of Carlos Betancur, Romain Bardet, Jean-Christophe Peraud and Alexis Gougeard winning races and Domenico Pozzovivo staying not far behind with his splendid disposition. The French WorldTour team, with their morale significantly boosted by an unexpectedly successful campaigns in February and March, aims to continue in the same line as they enter the Criterium International with a squad capable of claiming yet another victory in the French two-day event.

 

In-form Jean-Christophe Peraud, winner of the Tour Mediterraneen earlier this season, will lead the AG2R La Mondiale team in the Corsican event as the versatile Frenchman is perfectly suited to excel on traditionally diverse Criterium International’s parcours consisting of tree stages with both individual time trial and mountaintop finish included. He will be backed by a strong squad including in-form riders Alexis Gougeard and Vuillermoz.

 

Peraud confirmed that that he aims to go for the glory in the French race which route suits him down to the ground. The 36-year old Frenchman was right in the mix in his all appearances in Criterium International last three consecutive seasons, but never made it to the podium eventually finishing fifth, eleventh and sixth looking backwards.

 

“I'm often in the mix in the Critérium International, but I've never actually won it. On paper, it looks like my kind of race, and it's true that I love this event," Péraud told ASO.

 

"So I'm obviously going for glory on Corsica this year. I'll play my hand, hoping everything turns out for the best and I can take the top spot."

 

Despite facing a stiff competition Peraud presented a splendid disposition in Tirreno-Adriatico last week and finished the race just behind the podium. The versatile French rider confirmed his current great sensations coming from riding and hopes to keep up the momentum, additionally motivated by impressive performances of other AG2R riders positively influencing team spirit.

 

"I absolutely felt great in Tirreno–Adriatico and I've been flying ever since. I spent a few days recovering and my training rides went very well. Now it's up to me to ride the wave. My team's also racking up good performances, we're on a roll. Seeing the others riding strong pushes us into a virtuous cycle.”

 

Flying or not, the AG2R leader played down his own chances and admitted that he considers Astana’s Vincenzo Nibali a main favorite to take the spoils in Criterium International, while the route which on paper seems perfectly cut to his needs in reality suits him only to some extent.

 

"I don't think I'm the favourite for this weekend: Nibali's palmarès is more impressive than mine, and he's even managed to beat me in all the time trials in which we've gone head-to-head.”

Mountaintop finish on the Col de l’Ospedale is expected to decide the overall standings of the two-day event and Peraud is aware of the tactical approach he should follow to avoid a sprint from a reduced leaders’ group. The 36-year old Frenchman certainly can count on Nibali in his early attack, as the Giro d’Italia champion also lacks a finishing kick and was recently very eager to find a company for some more aggressive moves.

 

"It's a nice one. If there's one thing I remember from previous experiences, it's that I should attack before we cross the village. Otherwise, there's always the risk I have to sprint from a small group—not the ideal scenario for me. However, earlier sections of the climb could be a great launch pad for attacks," Peraud concluded.

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