By Gregor Brown in Paris
After only being recently crowned the 2006 Tour Champion, Oscar Pereiro of Caisse d'Epargne attended the 2008 Tour de France presentation at the Palais des Congrès in Paris. The 30 year-old Spaniard considers the race to be one of his hardest yet.
"Next year will be very hard," he said to Cyclingnews. "There will not be a prologue on the first day and the first time trial is very short, so there is not really a normal time trial until the end of the Tour. After [the first time trial] we enter the Massif Central and it will be hard on the legs, very hard."
He was impressed with the mountain stages, particularly those in the Alps. "The stages in Alps will be incredible, also the time that we will spend in Italy. The stage from Cuneo [stage 16] will be very difficult; it is a short stage but we will be climbing the whole stage."
Stage 16 will be the Tour de France's first run over the Italian pass of Col de la Lombarde and the first to the town of Jausiers, while taken in the seldom-used Col de la Bonette. The riders will face this moon-like landscape on Europe's highest road, at 2,802 metres (8,295 feet), before the 23 kilometre run to the finish.
Like his colleagues, he was happy to see minimal transfers. "For us it is better this way. It allows us to have more rest. However, I think this will be the hardest Tour that I will do. I have ridden four and this will be my fifth and the hardest. It is clear that a rider who goes well in the climbs will do well in the 2008 Tour. ... I will have to train more and more in the mountains to be ready."