Anthony Charteau (Team Europcar) is aiming to repeat his feat of winning the King of the Mountains title at the Tour de France in 2011. The Frenchman brought the polka-dot jersey to Paris last season and he is now looking to confirm his climbing credentials.
"I think that I'm among the best 20 climbers in the world," Charteau told Cyclism'Actu. "Last season, I fell during Liège-Bastogne- Liège and the Giro. I'd had good sensations. Then on the Tour I was up there on all the mountain stages. The polka-dot jersey will certainly be an objective this season. You always need to dream and I dream of taking a second jersey."
The points system for the King of the Mountains title will be altered for this year's Tour, with double points on offer at summit finishes, while only the first six riders will score atop hors categorie climbs.
Given that Charteau finished 44th overall in 2010, many observers feel that the new scoring method will work against him, but the Frenchman insists that he is benefiting from a newfound belief in his capabilities after tasting the podium on the Champs-Élysées.
"I'm expecting much more from myself," he said. "I'm going to have to get more results. The Tour de France reassured me, it revealed certain capacities that I didn't suspect I had or that I didn't want to suspect I had.
"This winter I really took stock. The team has a lot to play for this year. I need to get to a high level and I've matured enough to do so. I'm approaching this season as a leader. I'm beginning a second career."
Charteau's build-up to the Tour has yet to be finalised but one race that will not feature on his programme is Paris-Nice: "I'm going to skip Paris-Nice, the weather doesn't suit me at that time of the year."