By Jean-François Quénet in Hahndorf, Australia
When he broke a femur at the Tour de Romandie last year, David Moncoutié wondered if it was time for him to quit cycling. He's turning 33 years old this year and his career has constantly been affected by his lack of technical skills since he became a professional rider, already with Cofidis back in 1997.
"I have questioned myself quite a lot during my recovery and I realized that I loved cycling too much. I deeply wanted to come back once again. It wasn't the right time for stopping," the Frenchman said to Cyclingnews during his first trip to Australia.
"I came here because I wanted to be in touch with the peloton as soon as possible," he added. "It's early in the year but my break has been long enough. I feel hungry racing again and here it's perfect. The atmosphere is great. There is a real culture of cycling with many fans coming and watch us on their bike. I never travelled so far before but I truly enjoy seeing that people love cycling outside Europe." During the criterium held in Glenelg on Sunday night, he mostly kept the last position of the bunch in order to avoid eventual crashes.
"I'm scared," he admitted. "But I've always been scared, so it doesn't change at all after my crash from last year." At the beginning of his career, Moncoutié became famous for not even being able to put on a jacket while staying on his bike because he had never learned how to cycle no-hands. He has improved of course, but although he remained technically limited, he has managed to win two impressive stages in the Tour de France, in Figeac in his home province of the Lot in 2004 and in Digne-les-Bains at the end of an Alpine stage in 2005.
Moncoutié has also become famous for riding clean for his entire career even though he never left Cofidis, who has been involved in some doping scandals of its own.