John Gadret (Ag2r-La Mondiale) takes to the start of the Tour de l’Ain in Ambérieu-en-Bugey this evening as one of the main candidates for overall victory.
The Frenchman took a stage and the general classification in 2007 and followed that up with another stage victory in 2008. This time around he is hoping to capitalise on the form he built at the Tour de France to make a strong impression at the race.
In particular, Gadret will be looking to the final two stages in the Jura as an opportunity to stake his claim for overall honours. “I’m waiting for Friday and Saturday,” he told L’Équipe. “The Grand Colombier suits me really well. The slopes are really steep right from the bottom.” The hors catégorie climb features on the final stage, before a rapid descent to Belley.
Before that, Gadret must get through some flatter terrain, including this evening’s brief prologue. “It’s bizarre that they’ve put in a prologue, but as it’s only three kilometres, the gaps won’t be too big,” he said.
Gadret arrives at this year’s Tour de l’Ain on the back of being the highest-placed Frenchman at the Tour de France, finishing in 19th position in Paris. Public reaction to his performance illustrated the importance of the Tour in his country.
“After the Tour, I went to a campsite on the Côte d’Azur with my family and people recognised me,” Gadret explained. “That surprised me. I didn’t attach any importance to my placing. Nineteenth is a long way outside the top ten, but clearly, it means something to the French.”
After finishing a strong 13th at the Giro d’Italia, Gadret was ultimately under-whelmed by his experience in July. “I was disappointed not to win a stage,” he admitted. “I could do nothing more than follow, I was never able to make an impact on the race like I was able to do at the Giro. But the Giro was tough. I know that [Giro winner Ivan] Basso wanted to go well at the Tour and he was a little sub-par as well.”
Since the Tour, Gadret has sensibly prioritised recovery and has ridden just one criterium and 160km of the Clasica San Sebastien ahead of the Tour de l’Ain. “I want to finish the season well,” he said. This week’s race clearly figures highly in those plans.
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