By Jean-François Quénet in Châteaulin, France
Christophe Moreau is disappointed he's not able to defend his Critérium du Dauphiné Libéré title, with the rider's Agritubel squad not invited to contest the event. It's the second consecutive year the French Professional Continental squad hasn't been invited to the race, even despite having the defending champion in its ranks this time around.
"It's a pity that I cannot ride the Dauphiné again this year because this race has always suited me and I like it a lot," Moreau commented.
Moreau's choice to leave a Pro Tour team leaves the former Ag2r rider out of the picture for the Dauphiné starting on Sunday with a 5.6km prologue in Avignon. Instead the Frenchman and his team will hold a training camp in preparation for July's Tour de France.
Moreau met his future team-mate David Le Lay at the weekend's Boucles de l'Aulne, with the rider to be on loan from Bretagne-Armor Lux for the remainder of 2008 from July 1. The Breton climber, who has won the Tour du Finistère and the Trophée des Grimpeurs and currently leads the French cup series, will back the French Road Champion at the Tour which starts on his home soil of Brittany from Brest on July 5.
The Route du Sud on June 18-22 will be Moreau's last opportunity to win a race with the French champion's jersey. In Châteaulin, at the Boucles de l'Aulne, Moreau put himself at the service of Romain Feillu who didn't disappoint him and the staff of Agritubel.
"Romain was our best cards for winning," Moreau said. "Fortunately, he didn't need us for the final sprint. We raced well with three riders in the final breakaway. But Cédric Coutouly slipped and crashed in a curve with three laps to go and I did exactly the same at the same place one lap later."
Moreau eventually came across to the second part of leading group and was classified 11th. He showed a good form after spending a few days to reconnaissance the Tour de France stages in the center of France around Super-Besse and Aurillac.