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Jean-Christophe Péraud to lead Ag2r at Critérium International

By:
Cycling News
Published:
March 26, 2014, 5:00 GMT,
Updated:
March 26, 2014, 4:34 GMT
Edition:
First Edition Cycling News, Wednesday, March 26, 2014
Race:
Critérium International
Jean-Christophe Peraud (AG2R La Mondiale) attacks the final climb

Jean-Christophe Peraud (AG2R La Mondiale) attacks the final climb

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French team enjoying the winning feeling

Having impressed already this season with second overall at the Tour Méditerranéen and fourth overall at Tirreno–Adriatico, Jean-Christophe Péraud enters the Critérium International as a favourite for the win. The Ag2r-La Mondiale leader was fifth at the three-stage, two-day race in 2013 and sixth in 2011).

I'm often in the mix in the Critérium International, but I've never actually won it. On paper, it looks like my kind of race, and it's true that I love this event," Péraud told ASO. "So I'm obviously going for glory on Corsica this year. I'll play my hand, hoping everything turns out for the best and I can take the top spot."

While Alberto Contador was unstoppable in Italy, Péraud quietly went about his riding. Ag2r already have eight wins this season which is in stark contrast to last year when the French WorldTour team won just nine races in total.

"I absolutely felt great in Tirreno–Adriatico and I've been flying ever since. I spent a few days recovering and my training rides went very well. Now it's up to me to ride the wave. My team's also racking up good performances, we're on a roll. Seeing the others riding strong pushes us into a virtuous cycle.

Péraud is down playing chances of victory and suggested that the rider to watch will be Astana's Vincenzo Nibali. "I don't think I'm the favourite for this weekend: Nibali's palmarès is more impressive than mine, and he's even managed to beat me in all the time trials in which we've gone head-to-head.

The ol de l'Ospedale looks like deciding the overall once again and Péraud admitted the ascent doesn't suit strengths although may just try something to keep his rivals on their toes.

"It's a nice one. If there's one thing I remember from previous experiences, it's that I should attack before we cross the village. Otherwise, there's always the risk I have to sprint from a small group—not the ideal scenario for me. However, earlier sections of the climb could be a great launch pad for attacks."

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