After several disappointments during the early stages of Paris-Nice, Jean-Christophe Péraud reassured himself and his AG2R team by taking third in the final time trial on the Col d'Eze. The former mountain biker, who combines time trial skills with climbing abilities, fell short of 33 seconds to stage and overall winner Bradley Wiggins (Sky), who claimed the victory by only two seconds over Lieuwe Westra (Vacansoleil-DCM).
Péraud spent a fair amount of time in the hot seat as possible winner before Westra and Wiggins put on their stunning duel. "This is a reassuring result, even though it's always disappointing to get ejected from first place by the last two riders on the course. At the same time, I never pretended to be able to beat Bradley Wiggins! Today, the satisfaction I get from this result outweighs the momentary disappointment," said the Frenchman, whose initial objective of a high GC placing in Nice was shattered by a series of unfortunate events early in the race.
"It all started out badly with the prologue in the rain, in one curve I just went straight," the 2011 Tour de France ninth-placed rider told La Dépêche. "After that, there was the wind echelon on the first day, and then Rabobank started to ride as we had five minutes advantage in the stage to Rodez [where Péraud was in the breakaway - ed.]. That's just how it is. I started to get some doubts so this time trial on the Col d'Eze reassures me. I lose by 33 seconds, that's easier to bear than losing by three or four..."
AG2R team manager Vincent Lavenu was also happy about the result. "It's not a victory but a great performance, taking into account the high level of the field in this Paris-Nice. We end the week on a high note!"
Péraud will travel to South Africa this week for next week-end's mountainbike World Cup race in Pietermaritzburg, before returning to France and to the road in the Critérium International in Corsica.