Mathieu Perget was a recognisable face for locals in the first serious breakaway of the 2011 Santos Tour Down Under, even if his colours were not familiar. The Frenchman was making his first appearance for Ag2r-La Mondiale after spending the first five years of his pro career with Caisse d’Epargne.
“I’ve come to this race three times and I’ve finished on the podium three times,” said Perget, who sees cycling as such a team sport that he considered himself as a podium finisher when he acted as a domestique for Luis Leon Sanchez, who came second overall in 2010, and José Joaquin Rojas, who finished third on two occasions.
“I’m only talking about the team’s result,” Perget insisted. “I want to do the same again with Ag2r-La Mondiale. I’ve been recruited to bring my experience to the team. We want to have at least one rider in the top ten overall on Sunday. All of us will be able to survive over Willunga Hill on Saturday, so I believe the final placings will be determined by time bonuses. A three second bonus might be enough to make the top ten at the end.”
“We are a team of attackers,” Perget continued. “We’ve been present in all the serious moves today. In the front group, I knew that I wasn’t the fastest but I got the other guys to agree on sharing the time bonuses, although the rider from Uni-SA (Mitch Docker) didn’t want to. I’m happy with the three seconds I got and mostly because I didn’t get caught in any time split at the finish. That was the hardest part of the stage.”
Perget’s personal regret was the absence of Lance Armstrong in that front group. “I’m a fan of his and we were born on the same day (September 18),” noted the 26-year-old Frenchman. “Last year during the inaugural criterium in Adelaide, I enjoyed breaking away with him and Oscar Pereiro, Peter Sagan and Mikaël Chérel.”
“I didn’t come here for holidays,” Perget continued. “One month ago, I became a dad. I didn’t leave my daughter Julienne at home for nothing, although from my days as a cyclo-tourist I’ve kept this habit of taking pictures and posting them on my website.
“In the Grand Tours, I’ll be riding for our captains Nicholas Roche and Jean-Christophe Péraud but at the Santos Tour Down Under, I can take my chance. Unfortunately, the great condition I had when I arrived in Adelaide has been affected by the flu passed on to me by my room-mate Kristof Goddaert, so I’ve been on antibiotics for a week, but I’m ok now.”