This year, Paris-Nice has special significance as both the first top-level stage race of the season and the opening salvo in the new, season-long ProTour series. Bouygues Télécom rider Jérôme Pineau is one of the young hopes of French cycling, and a big fan of both Paris-Nice and the ProTour idea, as he tells Stéphanie Langlais.
Cyclingnews: Jérôme, what do you expect in this edition of Paris-Nice?
Jérôme Pineau: I hope to do well, to play an active role and be a protagonist in the race. I'd like to finish in the top 10-15 overall or win a stage. But it's best not to be too idealistic. It's too easy to say I'm going to do this or that. The competition will be very tough, like every year, but even more-so with the ProTour.
CN: How have you been preparing?
JP: Since the beginning of the season I've prepared for this race as my big objective. I've done a lot of good work this winter, differently than in other years, with more specific training based on intensity to push my limits further. I'm able to listen to my body better. I wanted to test this preparation with my new trainer [Ismael Mottier], with the goal of building the pressure to hit Paris-Nice in top form.
For the moment, racing has served only as preparation; I haven't raced at 100 percent so as not to spend too much energy. I've also worked hard mentally to let myself put aside my ambition. It's tough to accept going to a race knowing that I have to forget about the overall classification! Particularly since I'm riding much better in the early season, ever since l'Etoile de Bessèges. But I've learned to drop some of my old habits. This hard work, it's what suits me best. I have no doubts... I'm optimistic.