Pierrick Fédrigo's 2011 season, which looked to have been wiped out just two months ago when he was diagnosed with Lyme disease, finally does take a positive ending. By placing second behind winner Rui Costa (Movistar) at the GP de Montreal on Sunday, the FDJ rider proved to himself and the public that he's been able to come back almost to his former level despite the bacterial infection caused by a tick bite.
On the Montreal course, Fédrigo missed the victory by just 30 metres as he sprinted for the line against Costa. The Frenchman went early, with 200 metres to go, but could not take his attack to the line as the Portuguese climber closed in on him. "The difference between Costa and me is that he's done the Tour, he's got the power that I lack because I haven't done any big races this year," Fédrigo explained to L'Equipe.
Not many observers expected him to shine at the event after he had abandoned the GP de Quebec on Friday. "But I didn't drop out because I felt bad that day - it's just that the circuit in Montreal suited me better. The climbs are longer and you can put on a bigger gear," Fédrigo added.
The 32-year-old three-time Tour de France stage winner was immensely dissatisfied with his performances earlier this year, and his new team FDJ wondered what had happened to one of the best French riders in the peloton. After getting dropped at the French Championships in June, Fédrigo's morale was so low that he himself ruled out of participating in the Tour de France. Finally, in July, doctors found the reason for his poor fitness.
"I don't know when I got this [Lyme disease]," said the rider, who in his spare time likes to hunt - which might be where he picked up a tick. "It's an illness that drains your energy. Sometimes, they need a lot of time to discover it."
Now, Fédrigo has re-discovered "the pleasure of riding and hurting yourself". Even if he is not included in the French preselection list for the Worlds in Copenhagen next week, the Frenchman is upbeat as the 2011 season draws to a close. "I've shown the people who badmouthed me behind my back that I'm able to come back to a good level," Fédrigo concluded.