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Jens Voigt's final pro bike – complete with 'shut up legs' mantra
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Jean-Christophe Peraud (AG2R La Mondiale) celebrates his overall victory at Critérium International
Criterium International winner close to a new deal at 37
Beijing Olympic silver medallist for mountain biking Jean-Christophe Peraud is set to pencil a new two-year deal as a professional road rider, very likely with his current team AG2R-La Mondiale.
"At the end of last year I've had some doubts about my will to continue racing beyond 2014 but I've realised that I'm still mentally fresh", he told Cyclingnews on the start line of the Boucles de l'Aulne on Sunday.
The week before, on May 22, he thanked "everyone who thought of reminding me that time flies" as he celebrated his 37th birthday. "We've had a very good training camp in Briançon in the Alps", he said as he resumed racing in Brittany after a break following the Tour de Romandie.
"Everything has gone well at AG2R-La Mondiale this year", he noted even before Alexis Gougeard won the Boucles de l'Aulne in an impressive manner. After the race, he called out to his road captain Samuel Dumoulin: "Hey Sam, we have a champion here, don't we?"
Peraud was in the top ten of the Tour de France overall ranking when he crashed on two occasions on July 17 last year, before and during the individual time trial from Embrun to Chorges in the Hautes-Alpes. He left the race saying that it was not the end of the world but "just a broken collarbone" when French fans and media reported about the accident as a tragedy.
Since he switched to road cycling in 2010 as a replacement for late departing star Cadel Evans at Lotto, he has often put strong performances on both climbs and time trials, to score an important number of top 10 finishes but has only won one race – stage 4 of the 2013 Tour of the Mediterranean atop the Mont Faron – in his first three seasons with AG2R-La Mondiale. He has really stepped up this year as he won on the Mont Faron again but also succeeded Chris Froome as the champion at the Criterium International in March. He added to his team's consistent showing a fourth place overall at Tirreno-Adriatico and a third overall at the Volta al País Vasco.
As an established rider in the pro peloton now, he's keen to ink another two-year contract with AG2R-La Mondiale although he's got two other offers on the table. Set to take part in the Dauphiné alongside co-leader Romain Bardet in the race contested on the home soil of the Savoy-based squad, he wants his future to be sealed black and white prior to the start of the Tour de France for which Vincent Lavenu will count on his major quartet formed of Peraud, Bardet, Paris-Nice winner Carlos Betancur and last year's Alpe d'Huez winner Christophe Riblon after having enjoyed coming home from the Giro d'Italia with a first Grand Tour teams' classification victory
Since the team was created, under the name of Chazal-Vanille et Mûre back in 1992, AG2R-La Mondiale has placed three riders in the top 20 of the Giro overall with Domenico Pozzovivo fifth, second year pro Alexis Vuillermoz – another former mountain biker who follows Peraud's path – eleventh and Hubert Dupont sixteenth.