Alexandre Geniez put a year of struggle with illness and lack of form behind him when he won the Tro Bro Leon on Sunday. It was the Frenchman's first success since his summit victory at Peyragudes in the 2013 Vuelta a España.
The FDJ climber, who had never ridden the race known as the "Breton Paris-Roubaix" due to 25 sections of stone and dirt roads, drew on the skills honed in his mountain biking years to take his first success in a one-day race as he builds towards the Giro d'Italia. "I felt really good, but winning is something else," said Geniez, who finished fourth in the Tour of Finisterre the previous day and made a solo bid for victory on his 27th birthday in last week's GP de Denain that was ended just 4km from the finish.
"It's good to win again, especially in a race as unique as this one," Geniez told 100%Vélo.com. "It's been a crazy week. I had started to wonder whether I would find any form again. During the Tour of Catalonia I was stuck in the gruppetto and felt really low."
After finishing 14th overall in last year's Giro d'Italia, Geniez was on FDJ's long-list for the Tour de France and Vuelta, but had to miss both Grand Tours due to a mystery ailment that left him lacking power in his legs. It wasn't until the end of September that he was diagnosed with an intestinal inflammation that resulted in his body being affected by "alimentary deficiencies".
Forced to quit Catalonia on stage six at the end of last month, Geniez then spent a week training on his own in the Pyrenees. "I noticed that I was starting to feel better, that my form was returning very quickly," said the Frenchman, whose training routes from his base in Luchon took him back up to Peyragudes, as well as over the Peyresourde, Aspin, Portet d'Aspet and Hourquette d'Ancizan passes.
"After a week like that I thought that I was going to struggle with fatigue in the final, but I really felt good," said Geniez. "I now hope to confirm that at the Tour of Romandie and the Giro."
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Peter Cossins has written about professional cycling since 1993 and is a contributing editor to Procycling. He is the author of The Monuments: The Grit and the Glory of Cycling's Greatest One-Day Races (Bloomsbury, March 2014) and has translated Christophe Bassons' autobiography, A Clean Break (Bloomsbury, July 2014).
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