Mikaël Chérel in search of first pro win at Giro d'Italia

Frenchman deplores mental block in time trials

Mikaël Chérel's move from FDJ to Ag2r-La Mondiale hasn't made the French rider a time triallist but he was devastated after his poor performance at the inaugural team time trial of the Giro in Turin. He finished 3.17 behind his team-mates who scored the sixteenth best time out of 23.

"I don't understand why I'm blocked at 50km/h when it comes to racing against the clock," Chérel said while talking to Cyclingnews at the start of stage 2 in Alba.

"In the normal stages, I don't have this problem.”"

In his first year as a junior, one week prior to becoming the French national road champion, he was a strong enough time triallist to come third at the international Ronde des Vallées, only beaten by Belgians Kristof Van de Walle and Dominique Cornu.

Chérel showed his true value as a professional bike rider when he came close to winning stage 3 of the Tour de Romandie last week but he was intimidated by Alexandre Vinokourov who closed the door on him at the finish. The young Frenchman protested as he crossed the line in second position.

"I was disappointed but not for a long time," he said. "Second is the best place I could hope for against Vinokourov. A real sprinter would have passed him. I felt I was faster than him because I had a lot of energy left but he used his experience to bend on his bike at the right time. When I watched the video replay, I admitted he didn't do anything bad enough to be disqualified. But it was also obvious that the barricades weren't straight and it falsified the sprint."

Chérel acknowledged that he's been asked by the management of Ag2r-La Mondiale to be in good shape for all the WorldTour race he's scheduled for at the service of his captains. He rode in support of Jean-Christophe Péraud at the Volta al Pais Vasco and came fifth in stage 3.

As he's got a particular passion for Italian cycling since his young years as a cyclist, the 25 year old from Normandy is delighted to ride the Giro. His current condition allows him to target his first win as a pro rider. "I've identified seven stages in which I'll try to be proactive," he said. "Other than that, we have John Gadret to ride here for GC. The steep climbs of the second part of the Giro suit him really."

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