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Péraud: There is no French rider complete enough to win the Tour

Sadhbh O'Shea
December 19, 2013, 16:15,
December 19, 2013, 16:15
First Edition Cycling News, Friday, December 20, 2013
Jean-Christophe Peraud (AG2R) wins on Mont Faron

Jean-Christophe Peraud (AG2R) wins on Mont Faron

  • Jean-Christophe Peraud (AG2R) wins on Mont Faron
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Frenchman hoping to get into the top-five at home race

AG2R’s Jean-Christophe Péraud believes it’s unlikely we’ll see a French Tour de France winner in the next five years.

“There are very good French riders, who are able to do great things, but it seems to me that none has all the qualities to win the Tour in the future,” Péraud told Cyclingnews. “I hope I’m wrong but I think there is no French rider complete enough to be able to win the Tour.”

Péraud did however name his teammate Romain Bardet, alongside Thibaut Pinot and Pierre Rolland, as France’s best hopes in the Grand Tours.

France has been without a home winner of the Tour for 28 years. The last of these came when Bernard Hinault took the last of his five titles, in 1985. Since then they have finished on the podium only five times. They came close in 1989 when Laurent Fignon lost by a agonisingly narrow eight second margin to Greg LeMond in the final day’s time trial, still the closest finish to a Grand Tour.

In recent times, Péraud has been one of the best French performers. He finished tenth at his first Tour in 2011, after finishing sixth in the final time trial. Péraud was on course to better that this year, when he crashed out on the mountain time trial just days before the race reached Paris.

He’d already taken a tumble during a recce of the course in the morning, but chose to try and continue. His second crash was the final nail in the coffin and he called it quits. Far from being distraught at having to leave the race so close to the end, Péraud describes it as being a reprieve.

“I had decided not to leave after my first fall, when I fractured my collarbone. I was in a good position, and it would have been nice to finish and get a better placing. I knew that finishing the race would be complicated and painful,” said the Frenchman. “My second crash was in a sense a bit of a relief. The story was finished, that was clear.”

Looking to the future

Péraud is planning to attack the 2014 season in a similar vein to this year with a start in the Tour de San Luis. From there he will head back to Europe for Paris-Nice and the Tour Méditerranéen. The AG2R rider will return to the Critérium du Dauphiné for the build-up to his main goal of the Tour de France.

“It would be a dream to one day to get top five overall on the Tour but it’s very difficult,” explains Péraud. “This year, the conditions were excellent but I could have finished seventh or eighth at best. To gain to more places overall you have to be in top form, to have no glitch and to have a bit of luck.”

At 36, Péraud is in the twilight of his career and his current contract with AG2R-La Mondiale runs at the end of next season. “I feel that the end of my career is getting close,” he told Cyclingnews. “The older you are and the less you seem interesting for people but besides that I still feel at my best.

“[Before he retires] I would like to take part once to the Giro d’Italia. Thus, I would have taken part to the three Grand Tours. I would also like to compete once again in the Vuelta a España.”

After 15 years spent as a mountain biker Péraud made the switch to the road in 2010. While he says he doesn’t regret the move, the Frenchman admits he misses his mountain biking days. “It’s much more fun,” Péraud says. “It reflects more the level of each rider. You can’t cheat on mountain bike. It is a pure pleasure when you ride a mountain bike through the underbrush.”

Hullajelolt 10 months ago
I wonder how good would he have been, if he had switched to the road 5 years earlier. Not a lot of riders could ride a Tour on the level he did last year at his age. He might have been France's best chance at a GT.
Calin Marian 10 months ago
Warren Barguil rings a bell?two time vuelta 2013 stage winner.
Jar West 10 months ago
You mean the one who is great on finishes going slightly uphill but has never ridden top-20 on a mountain stage or time-trial?
Tony M 10 months ago
But he's only what 22/23 yo To find a TdeF winner in 5 yrs surely posisble.Find a 21-23 yo give him experience forn 4 yrs hey viola! Such as Barguil
Froome19 10 months ago
Yeh, that one.. who won Avenir!!
Wattie 10 months ago
"Laurent Fignon lost by a agonisingly narrow eight second margin to Greg LeMond in the final day’s time trial, still the closest finish to a Grand Tour." This is often trotted out, but is in fact incorrect; Eric Caritoux won the 1984 Vuelta by 6 seconds. It is poor for a specialist site to make this kind of simple factual error.
PatsyCline 10 months ago
It's disgusting really. I am not going to sleep tonight.
Sabino 10 months ago
Yes, but you are Crazy
Tony M 10 months ago
Plenty of good young French riders; with fewer USA riders on accelerants we may see a "new order"
BackSeatRider 10 months ago
Tony I think you will find it was all riders on accelerants and not just the Americans. Pick a nationality and you will find multiple riders who have been busted for doping. That includes the French.
yetanothergreenworld 10 months ago
Actually the French notion that they've been racing cleaner than other nations -- and therefore at a disadvantage -- does seem to have been born out by recent revelations. A few minor French riders (remember Clement l'Hotellerie?) ran afoul of the doping tests, but nowhere near the number of Spanish, German, or American riders . . .
movingtarget 10 months ago
There may be some truth in that but they clearly don't have a rider even close to competing with someone like Froome or Nibali. Rolland was the great hope but it's hard to see it happening for him now and Pinot has too many weaknesses. Peraud was just being honest.
Tony M 10 months ago
True BSR however the % is not good for USA riders