Grand Tour veteran playing domestique role for Ag2r
The last man selected in Ag2r-La Mondiale's Tour de France team, Italian Matteo Montaguti equalled his best placing at a grand tour as he sprinted to fifth place on stage 9 from the group behind stage winner Tony Martin (Omega Pharma-Quick Step).
A grand tour veteran with seven previous three-week races under his belt, the 30-year-old is making his debut Tour appearance but is unsure why it is regarded as any harder than the Giro d'Italia or the Vuelta a España, or why the riders are more nervous.
"The difference between the Tour and the Giro is not huge," he said. "Only on the Tour all the team-mates work very hard to place their leaders ideally and it makes the race tenser. I don't really know why everybody's so nervous as most finishes are well-known to the peloton unlike on the Giro or Vuelta."
Montaguti is riding in support of the team's GC candidates Jean-Christophe Péraud and Romain Bardet but was given the greenlight to emulate teammate Blel Kadri - who won the previous day's stage having been part of the breakaway - on terrain that was favourable to him.
"We are getting to stages that suit me better and I'm ready to do my job for Jean-Christophe and Romain, without neglecting my personal ambitions," he said after finishing fifth in Mulhouse. "If there's a good break and I go into it, I will take my chance. But my team-mate job also gives me great satisfaction."
Montaguti, who has two Italian track titles and two road professional wins to his name, will continue his hopes of adding a third win to his road palmarès and will look for more opportunities on the medium mountains stages.
"Because I climb well, at my own pace," he said. "But if it's too hard with steep climbs for more than a kilometre, it's too hard for me."
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