Cyril Dessel (Ag2r Prévoyance) is full of praise for the 2008 Tour de France. The last French rider to wear the yellow jersey told velo-101.fr in an interview that "Le Tour de France 2008 inspires me. It's balanced, with stages that are very open." He especially liked the stage to St. Etienne (stage 18) because "that's close to home for me; but it may not be the easiest stage."
His inspiration also comes from the days in the Massif Central, where there are "beautiful stages, suited to my style." Dessel enjoyed the fact of fewer time trial kilometres and shorter mountain stages, "with three cols on the menu." Dessel drew hope from the route that "from the first week on there are cards to be played and surprises to be had. With, pourquoi pas, an escape staying away."
As for the mountains Dessel will have some hometown advantage. The race will stay in the Alps longer than in the Pyrenees and close to home for Dessel. "I prefer the Alps, even though in 2006 I did a great stage in the Pyrenees with the maillot jaune. There is a grand stage with the finish at Alpe d'Huez [stage 17]. And the arrival in Italy [stage 15]. I have done the Bonette (stage 16) before, during a vacation. It is long, but not very difficult. The problem is the altitude of 2,800 metres - there could be a bit of a lack of oxygen!" Dessel didn't think the first stage was made for the sprinters, "except for someone like Erik Zabel, who could win."
His difficult 2007 season he had put behind him. He had to abandon the Tour, but "had a good rest afterwards. I started training again beginning of September, with a couple of weeks where I took it easy. Given that I already had a break, I will cut down less in the off-season; but I don't want to inverse my season, either, where I ride from September through February. I want to prepare well for the beginning of the season and ride a good 2008 Tour."
Dessel felt he was back to normal health. "The blood values in mid-September were the best I had all year. It was very important to take a break." The Frenchman can now tackle the next season calmly, with the new bikes that he already tested. "Yes, new BH bikes. I love the technical stuff, so I was in a hurry to get it.... I have had mine since two weeks."