Pierrick Fedrigo knew about winning in the French Alps. Before topping the Izoard on his way to victory during stage six of the Critérium du Dauphiné Libéré to Briançon on Friday, he had claimed his first Tour de France career stage win in Gap, where this Dauphiné stage began. It was Fedrigo's first Dauphiné win after previously finishing second, third and fourth in different past stages.
Fedrigo's success will make him the man to beat at the French Championship in Saint-Brieuc, Brittany, on June 28. The course is rumoured to be more demanding than a hard edition held in the recent past in Boulogne-sur-Mer, which he won in 2005. At the French Championships, Bbox Bouygues Telecom is usually the team to beat because its riders outnumber those of other teams and have more expertise.
"I'm used to having pressure on my shoulders for that day," said Fedrigo, thinking of the past and the future simultaneously.
Fedrigo will race the Tour de France, where he'll target another stage win, but what he has in mind for this year is different than in years past. Known for stopping his season rather early like many French riders, Fedrigo, who lives in the Bordeaux wine region, has set his sights on the World Championship in Mendrisio in September. "I decided to give it a go in December. That was before Laurent Jalabert was appointed as a selector," said Fedrigo.
Watching Alessandro Ballan win in Varese last year is what changed his mind about defending the colors of France. Just a month before the worlds, Fedrigo had defeated Ballan for the win at the ProTour event GP Plouay.
"The best preparation is the Vuelta a España, but we are still a bit far away from that to think about it much now," said the Frenchman.