Mikael Chérel set to start first Tour de France for AG2R-La Mondiale
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Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Mikael Chérel set to start first Tour de France for AG2R-La Mondiale

by Kyle Moore at 6:21 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Tour de France
 
Frenchman hoping to emulate Jeremy Roy’s heroic efforts of a year ago

Mikael CherelHis French team has not announced its full line-up for the Tour de France as of yet, but Mikael Chérel (AG2R-La Mondiale) learned a week ago that he will make his career debut there when the race gets underway on June 30.

The ultra-aggressive Frenchman has allowed himself to think about what his goals could be in July, and unsurprisingly, his primary goal is to get a stage win from an attack. Chérel has been knocking on the door for several years but has yet to grab his first career victory.

Chérel knows that his home country would be the most ideal stage, with the biggest spotlight, for a career making victory. And he worked with his team since early in the season, even with a Tour spot not assured until recently, with his sights set on July.

“Since I’ve been riding my bike, doing the Tour, this is my dream,” Chérel said in an interview with Velochrono. “From the beginning of the year, when I scheduled my season with the team leaders, the Tour de France was on my calendar. But it was also on the schedule of fifteen other riders, if not more. But I knew that if I did my job well, in terms of results I would be there, and if I did what they asked of me, I would end up going. So I took a break after the Classics and I have focused on the month of July.”

Chérel took a bit of a calculated risk in his late spring program, showing up to the Tour of California and the Critérium du Dauphiné without some of his top form. But he received the Tour selection based on experience gained over several years at the top level, and the extra energy he should have coming to form at just the right time could play to his benefit next month.

“The goal was to return [from a break] at the Tour of California, then to be at 90 percent for the Dauphiné,” he added. “I had no guarantee – only Nicolas Roche and Jean-Christophe Peraud were already assured. But for me the goal was to make the Tour and to succeed there. When I learned that I was among the first four selected [Hubert Dupont is also slated to appear – ed.], I took it as a sign of trust. I was honored.”

If Chérel is to find success in his home tour, in the form of a stage win, it will almost surely be out of a breakaway. But along with a win, the 26-year-old has another goal.

“I also dream of the polka dot jersey. I think it’s a challenge that suits me well,” he mused. “Last year, I followed the Tour de France at home, and I was so enthralled with Jeremy Roy and all of his escapes. He deserved a win.

“I already know my role. It is one that I’ve often had before – that I accompany the leaders in the mountains, but also make good escapes. We need results – we have not had much so far – so we should just ride.”

Chérel also spoke of his team’s two leaders, Peraud and Roche, restating his belief in Peraud in spite of his recent struggles. He also noted the improved climbing of Roche in the Tour de Suisse, indicating that a placing between fifth and tenth in the final general classification in Paris would be a legitimate goal for AG2R-La Mondiale.

Ultimately, Chérel summed up how the Tour could best be characterized for he and his team-mates.

“A breakaway will not be let go without an AG2R-La Mondiale rider in it,” Chérel vowed.

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