By Jean-François Quénet in Privas
It's been almost one year since Sébastien Joly was diagnosed with cancer. Last year after the Dauphiné, his cycling career was in limbo. After the treatment, he resumed riding his bike in mid-September but he had no idea how strong he would come back as a competitive cyclist. "I might have ridden my bike with too much enthusiasm to forget about my disease," he admitted.
The Française des Jeux rider found his way back in the peloton at the Majorca Trophy in February but felt exhausted in March and was forced to take a break. "I've understood that I'd have to be patient and accept that my physique and my morale would have some ups and downs."
A decision was quickly taken with the staff of FDJ that he'd skip the Tour de France this year. "But I wanted to do the Dauphiné anyway," he said on the finishing of Privas that he reached after being in a breakaway for 167 kilometres passing through the province of the Drôme where he lives and finishing in the province of Ardèche where has was born.
"I decided to break away only because I'm from here," he stated. "It was a lot joy to ride ahead of the bunch on the roads that I use at training. My family was here. If there is a small chance to go for a win, the chance has to be taken. Two years ago it worked when I did a similar breakaway in stage one of the Dauphiné with my team-mate Philippe Gilbert who won it, but it was a harder course."
"Today, I realised there wasn't much hope. I didn't get too excited about the idea of winning. Crédit Agricole didn't let us play much of our game in the front. But I don't have anything bad to say about what they did. I felt the same when I led the Tour du Limousin, I wanted to defend straight away. All teams are here for winning, not for making gifts."
Joly is happy to ride on home soil, it's obvious. "I could have done the Tour de Suisse but I feel much better here," he added. He'll take another break after the French championship in July and he has in mind to ride a solid program in August and September, including the Tour of Spain, before going back to the winter schedule he was used to prior to his cancer. "2008 is a season of transition for me," he warned.