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John Gadret (Ag2r-La Mondiale) after stage 15 of the Giro d'Italia.
Third Frenchman in top 5 of a Grand Tour in fifteen years?
John Gadret didn't perform as well in the uphill time trial of the Giro d'Italia in Nevegal as he did last year when he came third at Plan de Corones, where the sterrato (gravelled roads) favoured his abilities as a cyclo-crossman. He clocked the 16th best time but maintained his fourth place overall.
"It could have gone worse," Gadret told Cyclingnews at the finish. "I didn't feel great at the beginning of the time trial. I finished it well but I started badly. I'm keen to believe that things will go better tomorrow. The rest day has been counter-productive for me but I hope that climbing to here at a maximum of effort has helped my engine to re-start."
The winner of stage 11 at Castelfidardo is getting more and more attention at the Giro d'Italia. "It has boosted my confidence, but I still think it's going to be difficult to win another stage," he said, although stage 20 to Sestrières, with more gravelled roads on the colle delle Finestre, could give him another chance to break away.
"John will have to be careful towards the end of tomorrow's stage because it's a downhill finish to Tirano," Ag2r-La Mondiale's directeur sportif Laurent Biondi said. "We also have to take into account that Sunday's time trial isn't favourable to our climbers."
Should he keep his position, Gadret would become the third French rider to make the top 5 of a Grand Tour in the past 15 years, after Richard Virenque who came third and second at the Tour de France (1996 and 1997) and Laurent Jalabert who finished fifth at the 1998 Vuelta a Espana and fourth at the 1999 Giro d'Italia.
"I can feel that the other riders respect me more in the peloton now," he said during the rest day. "Even Contador says hello to me. This is pretty new." Italian fans love him because his physique is a bit similar to Marco Pantani's. They have been touched to hear how much of a fan "the pirate" he was and the inspiration he got from the bold climber of Cesenatico, to such an extent that he name his son Andreas Marco!