By Bjorn Haake in Paris
Stéphane Augé of Cofidis is starting the year slowly as his main objectives will come later in the season. He has ridden about 2,500 kilometers since November, with his peak form scheduled to be in the June/July time frame.
"My principal objective is to do a good Tour de France and – why not? – win a stage. But before that I will target the French Championships." The National Championships in Europe are traditionally held on the weekend before the Tour starts. The French event will take place in Saint-Brieuc, Brittany, this year.
Augé wants to improve on his 2008 performance. "I finished fifth last year." He smiled as he thought about 2009. "This year I want to do much better..."
Augé will have the benefits of great training grounds to prepare him for the summer highlight. "I am from Pau. I am not a climber and the Pyrenees are hard. But the training is super great." Augé praised the south western region and he also takes pride in the fact that the Tour passes by every year. "Racing at home is usually very motivating, except when the stages are very hard - oh la la," the Frenchman said. "Then it is not motivating..."
Augé was glad that his team reversed its course from stepping down to a Continental Pro Team status. "I think going ProTour is better. We will do all the great races of the calendar, which is also important to be able to keep at a good race level."
The experienced Augé feels very good about being with Cofidis, which became apparent when he talked about his 2008 season highlight. "My best memory of the season was the victory at the 4 Jours de Dunkerque. That was a great moment with a team that was dedicated to me. I had an extraordinary week."