France’s Christophe Le Mével (Francaise des Jeux) felt relieved at the start of the Tour de France’s stage 4 in Cambrai. Having crashed on many occasions this year, Le Mével feared the worst could happen on the roads of Holland, Belgium and north of France in the Tour’s early stages.
While Le Mével did indeed suffer a crash, it was on the descent of Stockeu where much of the peloton went down, and not the cobblestones of stage three that he’d feared.
“I’m still in a bit of pain,” he told Cyclingnews, while trying to bend his right arm. “It was a relief to not crash on the cobblestones. I’ve done even better than limit the damage.”
Conquering the cobbles came with the help of Australian teammate Wesley Sulzberger. The Tasmanian had a bit more pavé experience than Le Mével, as he rode Paris-Roubaix and made the early breakaway that stayed away for a long time.
Le Mével hopes his solid 10th place finish at last year’s race won’t make him a marked man as this year’s edition reaches the mountains. His result last year gave Francaise des Jeux its first top 10 Tour result since its formation in 1997, something he’s keen to improve on this year.
“I welcome the few stages before the Alps because the calm can help me recover from the injuries,” Le Mével said. “I want to break away like last year; maybe between the Alps and the Pyrénées but I’m afraid they won’t let me go this time.”
Le Mével and Sandy Casar - who finished 11th last year - are two cards for Francaise des Jeux to play again this year. They sit in 41st and 38th places, less than three minutes down on the highest ranked general classification rider Cadel Evans.
“This year we’ll try our best for general classification,” said team manager Marc Madiot. “We won’t send riders to breakaways that have very few chances of succeeding.”
Le Mével’s agent Andrew McQuaid visited Francaise des Jeux at the Tour village after stage four. The rider’s contract renewal is up in the air, giving the Frenchman added motivation.