Following a 15th place overall in the 2008 edition of the Tour de France, Amaël Moinard wondered how he could improve on that result. The answer? Move from his native Normandy to the French Riviera. And yesterday it paid dividends as the 28-year-old won the final stage of this year's Paris-Nice.
A stage win at the 2007 Route du Sud being hitherto the highlight of his palmares, Moinard claimed the best result of his career on the Promenade des Anglais, confirming his decision to change base was the correct one.
"With all the hills around Nice, I found better terrain for training here," he explained. "The conditions for recovering from the racing and training are also better here, with the international airport just around the corner and the sun when I go out on my bike.
"After my 15th place at the 2008 Tour de France, I felt expectations for me to perform even better. I felt good physically but my mind was too busy with all the questions I asked myself. I was close to winning a mountain stage in the Tour de France last year, I also made the top 20 at the Vuelta a Espana [18th] but for the media, it wasn't significant."
Therefore Moinard changed his tactics for 2010: "If I target a GC, I might always be on the second curtain," the Cofidis rider said. "I've realised I'd better go on the offensive. Now I take cycling as a game, I'm happy with my life here in Nice, maybe I will not be able to make the top 10 at the Tour de France but I can find other ways to enjoy this job," he added after a podium appearance with his son, Lubin, who is one and half years old.
The target of the polka dot jersey made him go on the attack for the third consecutive day. He was away with Thomas Voeckler during the final stage. "He made an enormous mistake to attack me at the bottom of the col d'Eze," Moinard continued.
"I knew if I put myself in the red after the efforts I made the previous days, I'd blow. I also knew after the right hand turn we would enjoy a tailwind and that's what I used to get back on. After that, I warned him he'd have to do most of the work."
"This is going to be a trigger point in Amaël's career," said Cofidis directeur sportif Francis Vanlondersele. "We expected more from him after his 15th place at the 2008 Tour de France. This win will give him the confidence to attack more."
Cholet-Pays de Loire (March 21) and the Criterium International (March 27-28) are next on his agenda.