By Tim Maloney in London, England
Ag2r Prévoyance directeur sportif Laurent Biondi has had a difficult few years after being falsely implicated in a French domestic doping investigation in the spring of 2005 and a trial in Bordeaux that had accused him of trafficking illicit substances. Recently, the Grenoble native was completely exonerated of any involvement and after a difficult 18 months, Biondi is back full-time at Ag2r Prévoyance. "It's a great moment to be here today; I'm really happy I can come back to Ag2r Prévoyance," said Biondi. "It's been like a nightmare, these past 27 months, that is finally finished. Now I've found my honour and dignity again and that is something very important."
Biondi was grateful for the support he enjoyed during the time he was suspended from Ag2r Prévoyance. "I really have to thank all the people who kept their confidence in me, above all Vincent Lavenu (the team's general manager) and Guy Chanal, the Grenoble sports authority director," he said. "They are two persons who were really behind me during all this time. Plus, there are a lot of friends who have welcomed me back into cycling; before this problem happened, I think I had a very good image and that helped me because people just didn't believe I was guilty of the charges brought against me and that helped fight these charges to the end."
Biondi will be on the road with Christophe Moreau, new French Champion, during the 2007 Tour and it is positive that the long, lean man from Belfort will have a good Tour De France this year. "Moreau isn't at the top of his game at 36 years old by accident," he explained. "He's got so much experience at the Tour. He's very motivated and has made an excellent preparation; perhaps he's in the best shape of his career. Moreau is more focused than ever before, especially with things like the birth of his daughter Margaux and his recent big wins in the Dauphiné and the French championships will help us see the best Moreau ever."