Cyril Dessel of AG2R La Mondiale has definitely proved he is back in business by taking his third victory this year in the Dauphiné Libéré. The Frenchman, whose brightest days were at the 2006 Tour de France when he was able to slip into the Yellow Jersey for one day, has finally put his toxoplasmosis infection behind him, which had doomed his complete last season to zero results.
Now, Dessel has shown his fitness is back on track by taking a stage in the Volta a Catalunya three weeks ago and winning again in the Dauphiné Libéré on Thursday. Both victories were stage-finale solo efforts and conquered in a similar fashion: by being in front on the final climb and giving it full gas on the descent until the finish.
"I took some risks, I jumped away with the escape and saw that the bunch was riding 3-4 minutes behind us," Dessel said in the stage finish in Annemasse. "I was feeling well and I knew there was a card to play with the ascension of the Salève. I didn't know this climb - I think I rode it once with my father when I was 14 years old, so I didn't have a lot of memories of it! At the foot of the mountain, Thomas Voeckler and Pierre Rolland got away. At first, I thought I'd never see them again, but I fought well until the top and saw that Rolland was cracking... that's when I played my card.
"I knew that if I distanced him at the top, as I'm quite a good descender, I had a chance. I'm also happy because in Catalunya, some people said that I attacked in the descent... So now I can say that I didn't look for the victory in the descent!"
Dessel is now looking forward to defending a top ten placing on the Dauphiné GC - he is currently ranked fourth - and preparing well for the Tour de France, the team's most important event in the season, where he finished sixth in 2006 as best French rider. "Rather than looking for a top ten placing in the Tour, I'll try to win a stage," he continued. "In 2006, they let me get seven minutes, but this year, I don't think I will be given that much time. Still, I'll try. You have to have an attacking approach - there are no regrets later and you have more fun riding in front than in the back!"