Absalon: I’ve never considered switching to road

World MTB champ says he wouldn’t get same pleasure if he followed ex-rival Jean-Christophe Péraud

World MTB cross-country champion Julien Absalon has won every title on offer in his sport, but the two-time Olympic champion revealed he has never given a thought to following his former off-road rival Jean-Christophe Péraud into the road scene when the French stars’ paths crossed at the Alpine resort of La Plagne on Tuesday.

Asked if he had ever been tempted to switch disciplines, Absalon told L’Équipe, “Many have done it, but it will never be the case for me. I would lose some of my pleasure if I did.” The five-time world champion added: “In road racing you often have to be patient for six hours before the big guns start to fire. Mountain biking is explosive, it lasts an hour and a half. There’s no dead time.”

Absalon, who confirmed his final career goal is to win a third Olympic title in Rio in 2016, said he was not envious of the popularity that 2008 Olympic MTB silver medallist Péraud had gained as a result of finishing second in this summer’s Tour de France. “I’m not competing to gain celebrity. That isn’t what I would have been looking for if I had gone over to the road. And I’m sure that Jean-Christophe didn’t leave mountain biking for that,” said Absalon, who is recuperating after breaking his left collarbone in a cyclo-cross race earlier this month.

Péraud admitted he envied Absalon his gold medal, but said he had moved over to the road in 2009 in order to discover another side of cycling and particularly the Tour. “I wanted to see how I compared to the world’s best road riders. It was a challenge,” the Ag2r-La Mondiale rider stated. “I didn’t leave mountain biking because Julien was almost unbeatable. I don’t cycle to be the best, but simply to get the best out of myself.”

Péraud confessed he values his second place finishes at the Olympics and Tour to the same degree. “The emotions I felt were comparable. The Olympics and the Tour are both Holy Grails,” he said.

Asked about his future goals, Péraud revealed he’d like to finish on the podium at a second grand tour, and indicated the Giro d’Italia is a clear target. As for the Tour, he said, “I finished more than seven minutes down on [Vincenzo] Nibali this year. That leaves me quite step to get up, doesn’t it?”
 

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