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Anthony Charteau (Europcar)
2007 overall winner back on track after 2011 injury
Together with his Europcar teammates, Anthony Charteau is enjoying the warmth of Southeast Asia in Malaysia this week, where he will be participating in the ten-day Le Tour de Langkawi as of this Friday. The event is important to the Frenchman, as he took the overall win in 2007 and has always liked the steep climbs and the climate Langkawi offers. Back from an injury-ridden 2011 season, the 32-year-old hopes to be luckier this year and come back to the form that saw him win the 2010 Tour de France mountain jersey.
"This is a race that suits me well with its hot temperatures and high-percentage climbs," Charteau told Ouest-France, having arrived in Malaysia on Monday. "Every time I was here, I've been in a position to win, so I'm eager to do well again this time."
Charteau started the season at the GP Mareillaise and the Etoile de Bessèges, after a solid preparation with his team in Guadeloupe and in Spain. But the Frenchman needs some warmth to make the best out of his abilities, and the cold European weather in February made it hard to increase the pace. "I don't like riding in this sort of conditions. But during the ascents, I had some very good sensations. The more we climbed the better I felt. So I'm looking forward to better weather!"
Having had some difficulties due to an early injury last year, the Frenchman also hopes for more luck this season. "I crashed badly in South Africa where I had all the ligaments of my right shoulder, as well as the shoulder blade completely torn off and it took some time to get over that," he explained. "It wasn't easy to come back. I was very tired at some points as I worked out hard to get back into form. Two months without competition is very long. But I didn't manage my return from injury very well. As soon as I had a little bit of good feeling, I wanted to come back fast."
Looking forward, Charteau's greatest wish this year is to regain the level he had during the 2010 Tour de France in which he took the polkadot jersey of best climber. "I want to get back to the pedalstroke I had in the 2010 Tour. But also take pleasure on the bike and win a few races, whichever they may be. Of course, if I'm able to fight for the mountains jersey again at the Tour, I won't think twice. After that, if the team is at the Vuelta and if I feel good, I'll ask to do it - this will depend on the Tour de France. Some years, it's possible to do the Vuelta after the Tour, and others, where you come out of the Tour too tired."