Christophe Laporte's victory in the short prologue time trial that kicked off the Tour de Luxembourg on Wednesday evening is just part of a bigger plan for French Pro Continental team Cofidis at this year's five-day, UCI 2.HC-ranked stage race. The team is also looking ahead to next month's Tour de France, which it received a 'wild card' invitation to.
"I felt good on the hill up to the finish, and climbed well, so I'm really happy to have won," Laporte told RTL Luxembourg.
While Laporte powered to the win on the 2.1km course in the centre of Luxembourg City by just 16 hundredths of a second over Corendon-Circus rider Marcel Meisen and 63 hundredths of a second ahead of Piet Allegaert (Sport Vlaanderen-Baloise), Cofidis were also looking long-term in the race, and to Anthony Perez and Jesús Herrada, in particular, who finished ninth and 11th on the stage, respectively, five and six seconds down on their teammate.
"Why not try for a third stage win, and try to win overall, either through me or Jesús?" said Perez on his team's website ahead of the race, with the Frenchman having won a stage at each of the last two editions of the Tour de Luxembourg.
"Jesús and I have started to really get to know each other well, and to really trust each other at races, which makes us a force to be reckoned with. Christophe is also really motivated to do well at the race," he continued, as Laporte proved on Wednesday. "We'll give it everything, like we do at every race."
Cofidis have also been handed one of the four 'wild card' berths for this year's Tour de France, which starts in Brussels, Belgium, on July 6. Perez rode the Tour for the first time in 2018, and hopes he can improve on his performance there last year, providing he gains selection from the team's shortlist.
"I'm thinking a lot about the Tour, and am hoping to do better than I did last year, and maybe nab a decent finish on a stage," Perez said, having taken 13th place on stage 14 to Mende last year, which was won by Astana's Omar Fraile, and having been part of a day-long breakaway earlier in the race, on stage 4, which was only caught with a kilometre to go.
The Tour of Luxembourg continues with a road stage on Thursday, taking the riders 191.3km from the country's capital to the town of Hautcharage, close to the Belgium border.