By Shane Stokes
Two years ago the 1998 world junior champion Mark Scanlon was part of AG2R's team at the Tour de France, riding well in a leadout role and in covering breaks, and thus being part of the stage winning success of Jaan Kirsipuu and Jean-Patrick Nazon. He hasn't reached the same form since and so missed out this July. However he told Cyclingnews on Friday that he is hoping to get into good condition for next month's Tour of Spain.
"The Vuelta is my goal, that is the race I want to do," the 25 year-old said. "I wasn't really aiming to do the Tour anyway. I've been training hard recently and felt like I was coming around a bit towards the end of the Tour of Austria. Hopefully I can get some decent form. Next up for me is the Tour de la Région Wallonne, and then I will travel to Hamburg to do the ProTour race there [the Hew Cyclassic Cup – ed.]. After that I will do the Tour of Germany and then, if my form is good, the Vuelta.
So far in the Tour de France, Scanlon's AG2R Prévoyance team-mates have won a stage, finished second in another and held both the yellow and polka dot jerseys. They were also brief leaders in the team's classification. The Sligoman said the success is important for the French ProTour squad. "It is great to see them doing well, even after Mancebo went out. It is very good for the sponsor to have that kind of success in the Tour, to be in yellow and get a stage. It is a very important race for them."
Some commentators have pointed out that the French have been more aggressive in this Tour and also it has taken a very different pattern than in the past, leading to the name the Tour of Anarchy. There has been some speculation that Operación Puerto has been at least partly responsible for this, something which Scanlon agrees with.
"Yes, I think it is probably related…this Tour has been very different and there have been some very big names who have been a long way back," he stated. "There have also been some guys who were up there in the Dauphiné [Libéré] and yet they are nowhere to be seen now.
"It is motivating all right, if things are cleaner. It is just one doctor, though, it doesn't mean the whole thing has been cleaned up yet. But it is a step in the right direction."
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