Christophe Le Mével wanted to finish the Critérium du Dauphiné with the confidence that he can target another good overall result at the Tour de France after finishing ten and as best French rider in 2009. The Française des Jeux team leader had a difficult week in the Alps but his fourth place on the last stage showed he ended the race on good form.
On the testing finishing circuit around Sallanches, where Bernard Hinault won the world title in 1980, it seemed that Le Mével, who like Hinault comes from Brittany, was going to win. However it was a different B.H who emerged to take the stage, with Boasson Hagen first to the finish. The Norwegian attacked alone just as Hinault did in 1980 and Le Mével couldn’t follow him on the last climb of the Côte de Domancy.
“Boasson Hagen was really strong”, Le Mével told Cyclingnews. “But our breakaway would have probably been caught if I hadn’t forced the pace in the two previous ascents of the climb. I lacked that little bit of strength on the last climb. I thought I could follow him but I wasn’t able to. It was disappointing but I finished the Dauphiné on a positive note despite my big crash during the time trial.”
Le Mével hit a wall and finished five minutes slower than eventual winner Janez Brajkovic in the time trial. He went on to finish 14th in the overall classification, 9:14 down.
“I felt terrible when I had to climb to Risoul on the day after my crash and I lost one and half minutes,” he said. “In the Alps, I lacked ten to fifteen watts compared to what I should be able to push at the Tour de France. The positive thing I can take from the Dauphiné is that I managed to regain my focus during the race and ride well, even though I hadn’t totally recovered.”
“My body was affected and my morale as well,” he added. “I’ve worked hard on my time trialling and I haven’t had the opportunity to see the benefits yet. In every time trial, I’ve crashed or I had a mechanical problem this year. I’d like to do a good time trial to see my progress.”
Le Mével will have last chance to ride a time trial before the Tour de France at next week’s French championship in Chantonnay. He will ride both the time trial and road race before heading to Rotterdam for the start of the Tour de France.