Tour de France runner-up Péraud chasing form after winter distractions, names first target

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Second overall in the 2014 Tour de France, Jean-Christophe Péraud has admitted that his winter training has been affected by commitments and surgeries, delaying his start to the season and meaning he is further behind that he had planned to be.

Due to this the Ag2r La Mondiale rider has accepted that a big ride in Paris-Nice is likely beyond him, but has said that he is gunning to be in strong form in April and then to continue his push to be in peak shape for the Tour.

“I usually began in Tour de San Luis,” the Frenchman said, referring to the Argentinean event. “It’s a bit different this year. My winter training was not perfect. Because of my second place in the Tour de France last year, I have been busier with some media requirements, etc. I had also two minor surgeries. Actually, I’m not in a top shape.

“I was very excited by the time trial in Col d’Eze in the next Paris-Nice. But, to be honest, it will be very difficult to get a good result. My first big goal of this season will be in Vuelta al Pais Vasco.”

Péraud was third overall in the race last year and will work towards being in the right condition for the April 6 start.

He is also eyeing up a target later that same month. “And why not Le Tour de Romandie?” he asked. “Usually, this race is too late for me and it’s impossible to achieve a great performance. We will see for this season.

“After the Swiss race, I will take some days off before preparing Tour de France.”

Péraud will make his season debut on Sunday when he lines out in the Classica de Almeria. He will then go on to the Vuelta a Andalucia Ruta Ciclista Del Sol, which begins February 18 and lasts five days.

“The Andalucian races will give me a good opportunity to ride with some good riders and in a world class race,” he said. “Meanwhile, I don’t have specific goals right now. I expect that it will be difficult. I am ready to suffer.”

Péraud stepped up to a new level in last year’s Tour de France when he was one of Vincenzo Nibali’s main challengers in the mountains. He ended the race seven minutes 37 seconds back in Paris and in finishing second on the podium, clocked up the best result of his career.

The runner-up slot followed on from second overall in the Tour of the Mediterranean – where he also won a stage – plus third in the Vuelta al Pais Vasco, fourth in Tirreno-Adriatico and fifth in the Tour de l’Ain.

It was a very solid season and showed that while his Tour result may have owed something to the absence of two of the top favourites, he was still at a very strong level.

Thinking back to that race, it gives him considerable motivation for the months ahead.

“After Froome and Contador crashed, the race was more open. And it was a good thing for me,” he said. “I had a top five in my mind, but I realized that a podium was possible during the last week.

“When I look back to this incredible three weeks, I remember the good moments with the Ag2r La Mondiale guys on the Champs Elysées to celebrate our team victory.”

The squad dominated the team classification, finishing a staggering 34 minutes 46 seconds ahead of the next closest, Belkin Pro Cycling.

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