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Ladagnous is back on track for the Tour

Matthieu Ladagnous (Francaise des Jeux) at the start of the 2010 Tour of Flanders.

Matthieu Ladagnous (Francaise des Jeux) at the start of the 2010 Tour of Flanders. (Image credit: Sirotti)

Matthieu Ladagnous was awarded the polka dot jersey in Saint-Laurent-du-Pont at the end of stage 1 in the Critérium du Dauphiné as a consolation prize for the missed opportunity of a stage victory. The Française des Jeux rider stayed away for 170 kilometres with Cyril Gautier (Bbox Bouygues Telecom), Blel Kadri (Ag2r-La Mondiale), Dominique Rollin (Cervélo TestTeam) and Sébastien Minard (Cofidis).

"It was a nice breakaway," the rider from Pau told Cyclingnews. "We put a mark on today's stage because there was a real opportunity to make it successful since Astana doesn't want to defend the lead. I didn't suspect that Garmin-Transitions would ride behind us. Otherwise we could have made it."

FDJ's team manager Marc Madiot was bitter after the stage. "We don't understand why Garmin brought it back," he said. Garmin-Transitions' best finisher in the sprint in Saint-Laurent-du-Pont was David Millar in 18th position. The American outfit didn't line up at the Dauphiné with any of their sprinters Tyler Farrar, Robert Hunter, Julian Dean or Murilo Fisher but they did all the work to condemn the breakaway after km 100.

"I'm happy that I took the polka dot jersey, otherwise it would have looked like a lot of effort for nothing," said Ladagnous. Like many French riders, the strongman from Pau is at the Dauphiné in search of a selection for the Tour de France. One year ago, he was sidelined by FDJ because his form was judged not good enough. Two years ago, he also missed the Tour de France because of an injury in the Spring but his consolation prize was a selection for the French team to ride the Beijing Olympics in the team pursuit.

Three years ago at the Tour de France, Ladagnous, the winner of the Four Days of Dunkirk, appeared like a great prospect as he almost held off the charging peloton in the streets of Compiègne where yellow jersey Fabian Cancellara eventually won stage 3 in anticipation of a bunch gallop. Cancellara's surge in the last kilometre put an end to the young Frenchman's hopes of a stage victory.

"I'm more confident than last year to ride the Tour," said the 25-year-old Frenchman.

"I expect him to ride like today on the offensive or at the service of the team," added Madiot about last year's winner of the Polynormande. This year Ladagnous finished second in the Etoile de Bessèges and Cholet-Pays de Loire but has yet to confirm his promising result of the Four Days of Dunkirk victory three years ago.