With a final stage win in the Tour de l'Avenir from Sébastien Minard and sixth overall to Eric Berthou in the same race, struggling French team RAGT Semences has pronounced itself extremely pleased with the performances of its young squad. The team is folding at the end of this season, but with plenty of talented young riders on the roster, strong performances are vital at contract negotiation time.
Berthou is one of the riders looking to secure an employer for 2006, and sixth place overall won't hurt his chances. The young Frenchman says he learnt a lot during the tour. "From a personal point of view, I have learnt to ride out front," he said. "It's the first time I found myself in that situation and I have to admit that I liked it. I've learnt to cope with the pressure." B
erthou found the going tough, but also learnt that's something riders have to deal with. "Towards the end, even if I had sore legs, I also had a bit of a headache. When you race for the overall positions, you have to be especially vigilant. The slightest mistake in positioning can turn out to be fatal." he said.
After a challenging season it's now time to focus on next season, but Berthou is optimistic. "I've got one or two things to follow up, but nothing that clear yet. With this place, I may have attracted the attention of one or two sporting directors. I've had all sorts of physical problems this year. I've been taking things steady for the past month and it looks like it has paid off. As for my future, you know, until I've seen the signature at the bottom of the page..." he said.
Sporting director Julien Jurdie was extremely pleased with his squad's performance in Avenir, yet mindful of the fact the team won't exist next season. "We have run a great Avenir from start to finish," he said. "Both team and staff were in perfect harmony, each doing their very best. All of the riders really did what they could, running the race in the lead. Eric Berthou finished sixth overall and Sébastien Minard won. Now I have got over the excitement of it all, of course, I'm sad that the team is folding. It really is a pity."
RAGT Semences squads for upcoming races
GP de Wallonnie, September 14: Eric Berthou, Renaud Dion, M. Drouilly, Xavier Hérine, Kevin Ista, Yoann Le Boulanger, Benjamin Levêcot, Ludovic Martin, Nicolas Reynaud, and Christophe Rinero.
Tour de la Somme, September 16-17: Guillaume Auger, Emilien Benoit Bergès, Olivier Kaisen, Benjamin Levêcot, Roman Luhovy, and Eddy Seigneur.
GP d'Isbergues, September 18: Eric Berthou, Renaud Dion, Nicolas Dulac, Hubert Dupont, Yoann Le Boulanger, Ludovic Martin, Sébastien Minard, and Christophe Rinero.