Tour de France runner-up Jean-Christophe Péraud has admitted to being worried that too much might be expected of him at the 2015 Tour de France following his second place finish in this year's race.
In an interview with L'Équipe at his home in Villeurbanne, on the northern edge of Lyon, the 37-year-old Frenchman said that he is still coming to terms with that performance, and stresses that it should be seen in its context.
"I am well aware that the Tour would have been different if it hadn't been for the abandons of [Chris] Froome and [Alberto] Contador, even though Froome wasn't at his best level," said Péraud, adding: "In my opinion only Contador could have beaten Nibali."
Looking ahead to next year's Tour, Péraud acknowledges that he and Romain Bardet, his co-leader at AG2R La Mondiale, are likely to face a much bigger challenge as a result of their success this season.
"I'm sure more will be expected of me and I'm going to do the best I can. However, the risk I run is that I finish fifth at the Tour and that's considered a failure," says the Frenchman. But, he adds, being a co-leader does have benefits when it comes to shouldering this burden.
"We've got two leaders and that means the pressure is shared between us. Not every team has that advantage," Péraud explains. "The negative side to it is that we need to race without causing damage to each other's prospects. That's the hardest thing to manage."
The Tour runner-up says he's not back into full training yet, preferring to take advantage of the period before training camps start to enjoy some time with his young family. "I've always preferred to start at a low level and build up to form little by little during the season," he says
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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