The best French rider of the Tour de France and the Vuelta a España last year - 27th and 13th in the respective overall classifications - Stéphane Goubert of AG2R is not a famous pro cyclist, not even in his home country. Contrary to his then-team-mate Christophe Moreau, a well-known name in the cycling scene even before his 2007 Dauphiné Libéré victory, Goubert climbed the Tour overall classification quietly, and finally took the 'title' of best Frenchman from Moreau who had occupied that position in the last few years.
The 37 year-old had initially thought of 2007 as his last year as a pro, but after the Vuelta, he decided to continue his career for another year. "Best Frenchman in the Tour, that's good for the sponsor as well as personally, but it's not everything. To finish beyond the top 20 is not an achievement," the 37 year-old told L'Equipe on Thursday. "It's at the Vuelta that I realised that I still had the level: I was with the best in the mountains, and I showed that I could be amongst the top 10 in a Grand Tour. If it hadn't been for that first time trial, I could have done better."
'Goubi' will thus lead the younger riders of his AG2R team for another season. "I signed for one season," he continued. "I've been working this way for a few years already. If I have good training sensations but get dropped in races, I would have no morale left to continue. But it's also because the sport's having difficulties today that I don't think I have the right to leave. I couldn't think of my team's youngsters being left alone, without guidelines. I feel obliged to them. It was a big factor in taking my decision."
The experienced all-rounder is also hopeful that the fight against doping, which gained a new momentum this year, will finally bear fruit. "I have an optimistic character, and I hope that the solution is near," Goubert added. "This season will be a turning point. For the first time, I have the impression that the whole cycling community has understood the gravity of our problem and that everyone wants to solve it. That everybody realised that cycling is not far away from dying! Before I leave, I want to finally see cycling take the right direction."