Brice Feillu, the new French climbing sensation, attended the Tour de France presentation in Paris yesterday without knowing whether or not he will be able to race the event next year. Together with his older brother Romain, Feillu has signed with Dutch Continental Pro team Vacansoleil for 2010, and the squad will need an invitation by the Tour organisers to participate.
Feillu, who won stage seven to Andorra-Arcalis in this year's event, remained however hopeful that his and his team's performance this year would be honoured. "We don't have any guarantees but still good chances of doing the Tour next year," the 24-year-old told L'Equipe reporters after the presentation. "The team performed well this year. It won a stage in the Vuelta with Borut Bozic. Johnny Hoogerland finished 12th on general classification. It's a team whith which Romain and I want to make progress."
The Frenchman, who already wore the mountains jersey at the 2009 Tour, added that if the team was invited, the target of taking the jersey to Paris could be a possibility. "If I can jump in the right breakaway to score a lot of points and put on a great performance right from the beginning, it's possible," he continued. "Morzine, Gap, Mende, all of these stages could suit me, as well as the Tourmalet, which is a beautiful pass. There is also the Col de la Madeleine which many riders fear, and which I don't know yet. If I have the chance of riding the Tour, I will reconnoitre it."
The Tour organiser's decision on which teams will get a wildcard invitation should nevertheless be influenced by France's hopes of seeing another Frenchman win the mountain classification again, six years after Richard Virenque, the last French winner of the polkadot. Moreover, his brother Romain has also excelled at the Tour before, wearing the maillot jaune in 2008.
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