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"First I have to stop focusing on going to races like Paris-Nice, Tirreno-Adriatico, Tour of the Basque Country and others. Instead, it is fundamental to regain the joy ambition and good condition."

Photo: Sirotti




10.11.2016 @ 19:02 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

"Finding myself in a gruppetto which was dropped with forty kilometers to go, it's not what I wanted to do.” These are the words of Christophe Riblon after a difficult 2016 season. For a rider who has had resounding victories in the Tour de France on Ax3-Domaines and Alpe d'Huez, the past year were to forget. Not at the expected level for much of the season, the AG2R-La Mondiale rider failed to find the right condition and above all disappointed himself. 


Riblon still kept the trust of his leaders who have extended his contract for another season.


“It was a complicated year,” he told “My first month of the season, with the Tour Down Under, the Tour Med and Tour La Provence, went very well. Then I had a little more difficulty. We never managed to find out why and how. We have analyzed things with coaches, especially with respect to the racing program. The idea is to change things so that it does not happen again. The team, like me, did not feel that this can happen again next year. What is clear is that the season did not live up to my expectations or those of the team. I did not want to ride like this.”


Despite the bad season, Riblon has clear visions for the future.


“I want the role of being a teammate for Romain [Bardet] or others,” he said. “This is something that suits me perfectly, being a road captain and being alongside young people to help them and give them advice. I really like this role, but first, what I want is to find fun and ambition. This requires that I ask myself questions about my racing program, my preparation. I want to once again have an impact on the races which has not been the case since last March. First I want to find myself again, be in a breakaway, see myself in action in the final and then to be at the side of Romain or others in the big races. And it will happen during the season, around April or May, if I can find my level. This is how I see things.


"I will talk to the team next week at the first gathering. Personally, I hope to re-focus on a French race schedule, more European and a little less WorldTour. I cannot say that I lost the pleasure. I always love what I do. But if the results and the performance are good, it's obviously much more pleasant. First I have to stop focusing on going to races like Paris-Nice, Tirreno-Adriatico, Tour of the Basque Country and others. Instead, it is fundamental to regain the joy ambition and good condition. Then the big races will naturally follow if I feel really good. 


”As we are good friends, I have talked a lot with Samuel Dumoulin about what I want to do in 2017. I no longer want to absolutely be in the big races. For two-three years, Sam has had a French program and it is also why he was able to win the Coupe de France. He returned to something that suits him and it did not stop him from doig the Tour de France, Critérium du Dauphiné, and performing well. That's how I want to see myself.”


Riblon’s goal is to regain confidence. 


”For several years, I have been very focused on a WorldTour program, and the team also count on me in these races. Recently, we have seen that both in terms of the results and the work done during the race, I have not given complete satisfaction, neither for the team nor for myself. Earlier this year, at the Tour Med and the Tour La Provence, it went really well for me. It is perhaps not much, but when there is a group of twenty riders and you're still there, it is satisfactory. It is certainly not me who won because I helped Jan Bakelants or other riders in the team, but I was there. Finding myself in a gruppetto that is dropped with forty kilometers to go is not I wanted to do. 


Riblon will turn 36 years next January but he is not ready to retire yet.


“I have not set limit, simply because I have no desire to stop,” he said. “I absolutely love what I do, I still want to make sacrifices. That said, I am aware that if I will again have a year like this one, it may be difficult to stay in the team where I am. In my head, I have signed for another year, and I want to make a great season and then sign a two-year contract. That would make me stop at 38 years of ageand I would have had the career I wanted. I may be ready to stop at that point.”



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