Péraud still looking for early season form

Tour de France runner-up aims for results in Basque Tour

Jean-Christophe Péraud (AG2R La Mondiale) has taken a slower start to the 2015 season, and is only just making his season debut in this weekend's Clasica de Almeria and the Vuelta a Andalucia Ruta Ciclista del Sol next week.

Last season, the Frenchman began the year in the Tour de San Luis before coming back to France to win the Mont Faron stage and finish second overall in the Tour Méditerranéen. He then was fourth overall in Tirreno-Adriatico, won the Critérium International and was third overall in the Vuelta al Pais Vasco. After his successful spring, he came second to Vincenzo Nibali in the Tour de France.

This year, Péraud admits his off-season preparation was not perfect. "Because of my second place in Le Tour de France last year, I have been more busy with some media requirements, etc. I had also two minor surgeries," he said. "Actually, I’m not in a top shape. The Andalucian races will give me a good opportunity to ride with some good riders and in a world class race. Meanwhile, I don’t have specific goals right now. I expect that it will be difficult. I am ready to suffer."

The 37-year-old's campaign differs slightly from 2014; he will race the one-day Classic Sud Ardèche at the end of this month after Ruta del Sol, followed by the Drôme Classic. At the end of March he will defend his title in Critérium International before taking on the Basque Tour and Tour de Romandie in the build up to the Tour.

He did not rule out participating in Paris-Nice, but it would be without the goal of an overall result. "I was very excited by the time trial in Col d’Eze in Paris-Nice. But, to be honest, it will be very difficult to get a good result. My first big goal of this season will be in Vuelta al Pais Vasco, and why not Le Tour de Romandie. Usually, this race is too late for me and it’s impossible to achieve a great performance. We will see for this season. After the Swiss race, I will take some days off before preparing Tour de France."

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