Frenchman encouraged by Paris-Tours performance
Geoffroy Lequatre is aiming for a place on RadioShack's Tour de France squad next July. The Frenchman joined the team from Agritubel at the beginning of 2010 but was not selected for this year's Tour.
"As I've said many times before, I was very disappointed at the time," Lequatre told Cyclismactu.net. "I was very motivated to ride that Tour, just as any rider would have been, French or otherwise."
The 29-year-old Frenchman is keen to make amends in 2011 by taking part in his fourth Tour. Lequatre's best placing came in his last outing in 2009, when he finished 64th overall.
"The stated objective of my season will be the Tour de France, if I manage to participate," Lequatre said. "It would be the highlight of my year, and I would go with some ambitions."
Lequatre's chances of lining up on the Passage du Gois on July 2 may have been increased by the absence of Lance Armstrong from La Grande Boucle. The American will ride his last international event for RadioShack at the Tour Down Under in January.
However, Lequatre is unsure of precisely what impact Armstrong's departure will have on the team.
"I don't know, we haven't discussed it yet as the first training camp won't be until the beginning of December," he said. "I'll see at that camp how the season will pan out."
The 2010 season was a difficult one for Armstrong and RadioShack, particularly in light of Floyd Landis' accusations of systematic doping at the US Postal Service team, which came to light in May.
Lequatre's contact with the American over the course of the season was relatively limited, however. "I rubbed shoulders with him at the training camp," Lequatre said. "I also rode the Tour of Flanders with him and our paths crossed a few other times."
After missing out on the 2010 Tour, Lequatre set about targeting a number of late-season races. The Frenchman was keen to add to his professional palmares, which lists just one major victory, the 2008 Tour of Britain, and he came agonisingly close to doing so at Paris-Tours.
Lequatre held an 18 second lead over the peloton entering the 2.7km-long Avenue de Grammont, but he was ultimately caught just 400m shy of the finish line. He insists that he harbours no regrets about how the finale played out.
"I followed the plan I had set out and gave everything out in front at the end of the race," Lequatre said. "The Avenue de Grammont is so long that eventually the peloton and the headwind got the better of me. Maybe with a more favourable wind I could have taken the win but it's like that.
"I think that I shouldn't look on it as a defeat but as a point of departure towards other things. Even if the victory didn't come at the end of it all, it proved to me that I can do good things at a high level. The episode has opened up greater prospects for next year."
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