Sylvain Calzati (Sky) was one of the most active riders in the four-man breakaway on the way to Aix-en-Provence during the fifth stage of Paris-Nice. This came in contrast with his low morale the day before when he complained about his performances being affected by the cold weather.
"I was happy with my prologue," he told Cyclingnews. "A 33-second deficit to Lars Boom and finishing in the first quarter (44th) was pretty good for me because this is not my speciality. But in the following three stages, I suffered like hell. I definitely cannot handle the cold anymore. But as soon as the sun shines and the temperature rises a bit, I feel good again.
"I went on the attack today because I just love fighting on a bike," he continued. "I believed a little bit in the possibility of winning the stage. I was less confident when [Rein] Taaramae joined us. I still don't understand what he did that for. Without him, we had more chances to succeed. Then AG2R led the charge but they didn't catch anyone, except [Thomas] Voeckler who had a puncture."
The 30-year-old from Lyon has had a difficult off-season due to the bad winter in Europe. "I feel sorry for Team Sky that my competitiveness is a little delayed," he said. "But for the first time since 2004, when I started well with Oktos [2nd at the Etoile de Bessèges], I've had no physical problem in the early part of the season. That's why I managed to break away today. I still have a lot of work to do to get in my best form, though, but I hope to do well at the Criterium International two weeks from now."
The former Agritubel rider, winner of a stage in the 2006 Tour de France with AG2R, enjoys his time at Sky. "This team is super," he said. "The atmosphere is great. There's no pressure, or lets say there's a positive pressure, but even if we don't win the management keeps their faith in us. This is rare in the world of cycling.
"For now, everything is great in this team. Since I began my career abroad in an English-speaking team [with the first version of Barloworld in South Africa in 2003], I wanted to join a foreign team again. I couldn't find a better one than Sky."
Calzati demonstrated that he was still a good climber when he finished 20th on Mont Ventoux in last year's Tour de France. That's how he caught the attention of the new team Sky and its Francophile promoter Dave Brailsford. "They expect me to do well at the Dauphiné," Calzati said. "In May we'll go and reconnoitre the stages of the Tour de France. It doesn't mean I'll make the Tour team for sure but I'd love to do it for the first time with a precise role at the service of a leader like Bradley Wiggins who targets the overall classification."