Fuelled by Yoann Le Boulanger's second place at the Trophée des Grimpeurs, French Pro Continental Team R.A.G.T Semences now has reason to back themselves, with directeur sportif Jean-Luc Jonrond believing a big victory isn't too far away.
"Over the last few weeks, I have been very optimistic, although the results themselves did not give me any real reason to be so," said Jonrond. "I could just tell that things were starting to look up. From now on, I can see that we are going to end up winning a big race, which is what it's all about at the end of the day!"
Although a little disappointed at finishing second behind winner Philippe Gilbert (Française des Jeux), Le Boulanger is satisfied with his physical condition in comparison to the other riders: "I gain the satisfaction of feeling good physically at the finish and am quite pleased to see that I did not come off that badly compared to the better riders," he said.
"I came to within a hair's breadth of winning and it's a real shame I didn't make it. It was also great to have been in the fight all the way and having always felt up to it. I reckon I'm 100 percent fighting fit, and I say once again that I'm out to try and win a big race. Every now and again, I do curse last year's setback at a time when I really was feeling strong."
Serge Barle, the team's general manager said his team is more or less on the same level as they were at the same time last year, only stronger: "One thing is sure, the team is stronger than it was last year, and so it is normal that we can expect to achieve better results," he said.
"The whole team is motivated," added Le Boulanger. "We not lacking much. Those who might have had doubts previously are perhaps waking up to the fact that we do have a reason to be here. All in all, we have nothing to be ashamed of compared with the results of the other French teams. For the Coupe de France, it is better for us to have this sort of result than to sit back and be content with just being there. Consistency doesn't always pay. It is how you go about getting your place or winning which counts and nothing else!"