By Bjorn Haake
Alexandre Usov has moved from AG2R La Mondiale to Cofidis this season and has set his sights on riding the Tour de France for the first time. His first stepping-stone will be to perform at the Down Under.
Usov has only one thing on his mind in 2009. "My grand objective is to participate in the Tour de France, because I have never done it." Usov knows it is the race with the most media attention. " A stage win in the Tour is unique - only the World Championships are equally prestigious. A stage win in the Tour brings you so much public adulation."
A training camp in the beginning of December has put Usov on the right track. "I am in the pre-selection of 13 riders for the nine places - so I am hopeful."
The camp in Greoux-les-Bains was a mix of riding and getting to know the new teammates, but Usov trains with one of the Cofidis coaches, who has given him a new programme. The first start of the season follows in less than a week. "I am going to Australia - the season is already starting!"
Cofidis initially decided not to participate in the ProTour before reversing its decision. Thus a start Down Under would have been unlikely when Usov signed his contract at the end of September. "ProTour or not, that didn't change anything. I already knew it was a team with a good structure and that they would ride a good programme." But the return to the highest-level racing was definitely welcome by Usov. "Cofidis changed its mind and we are part of the ProTour, from which we riders can only profit."