French rider Christophe Rinero (RAGT Semences) is getting a new lease of life, having signed with ProTour team Saunier Duval-Prodir, after having ridden for second and third division teams for the past four seasons. The 31 year-old reflected on his career so far, which had its highlight in the 1998 Tour de France.
"I've been riding pro for ten years now and my goodness, time has flown by," he said. "For me personally, 1998 was the best season in my career. That year I finished 4th on the Tour with the jersey for the best climber and went on to win the Avenir, still with the jersey for best climber and winning two stages into the bargain. The future was looking good. In 2000, I had a streak of bad luck when I tore a tendon. I was riding for Cofidis at the time. By 2001, I was out on my ear. I could not be counted upon. I was out of favour with the other sporting directors of the big French teams. Oktos held out its hand. I stayed for two seasons but I really got back into the saddle thanks to RAGT Semences in 2004.
"It is this team which really got be back up off the ground again, both mentally and physically. There were never any set-tos with the Red and Greens. In spite of limited resources, it was a good structure. A sort of family atmosphere and a close-knit team. Friendly management with Serge Barle, Jean-Luc Jonrond and Julien Jurdie. The team mechanics too, who I called upon many a time to change my position a couple of minutes before the start (laughs). I tend to worry about my gear. In short, I'm pleased to have donned these colours for two seasons and to have been able to get back on track since 2004.
"I'd like to underline that RAGT Semences has enabled 18 riders to work for two years. And without wanting to upset anyone, as we've all heard more than enough about it, the ProTour put paid to RAGT Semences project. Getting back to my results, I am of course conscious that they are modest. Without being ashamed about it, I'd go as far as saying that I've had none to speak of. In any event, I was often involved in the important phases of a race, particularly in the decisive moments. I probably demonstrated that I still had the bottle necessary to stay pro. For the last month and a half let's say, I've been riding well again."
Rinero added that his recent form in Paris-Corrèze and GP Plouay enabled him to secure a spot with Saunier Duval, and hopes to finish off his season well.
RAGT for Circuit Franco Belge (September 29-October 2): Guillaume Auger, Emilien Bergès, Reynaud Dion, Kevin Ista, Yoann Leboulanger, Benjamin Levécot, Sebastien Minard, Christophe Rinero.