By Jean-François Quénet in Le Grand-Bornand
As the winner of the 2007 Dauphiné-Libere, which covers some of the same ground as several stages of the Tour de France, Christophe Moreau feels at ease for the day the Tour de France comes to the Alps. "These are my favorite mountains and I'm looking forward to it," he said.
Laying in 21st position, only 36 seconds down on best-placed favorite Andreas Klöden, the 36 year-old Frenchman is happy with his first week of the Tour. "It's my 12th Tour de France and I have the experience for avoiding the troubles," he said. "I kept myself out of the crashes this time. It hasn't been the case all the times in the past."
Moreau said he spoke to Alexandre Vinokourov the day after his big crash. "I had the feeling he was badly affected," Moreau said. "Of course this will change the scenario of the Tour. As for myself, I'm happy to hit the mountains. The Tour really begins now. It's less nervous. We're close to getting a clear hierarchy in the race."
Moreau was the only Frenchman finishing in the group of the favorites in Le Grand-Bornand. Although breakaway man Laurent Lefèvre stayed away and now stands in 4th place on GC, the French champion should have no problem getting the position of best Frenchman overall; something he has achieved four times in Paris already with a peak just below the podium (4th) in 2000.
With the loss of a few Tour de France contenders since the exclusion of five major champions one year ago in Strasbourg, the Ag2r rider aims for more than just being the first Frenchman in Paris. Since he won the Dauphiné last month, he says: "We'll see how things are in Tignes. From there on, we'll decide whether I ride for stages or GC."
The last Frenchman to make the top three was Richard Virenque, Moreau's team-mate at the time at Festina; the guy who made the French crowds crazy came 2nd in 1997. "I've stayed focused so far and this is the nerve of the war," Moreau said. "At the Dauphiné I realized it suits me better to go on the offensive."