Jean-Christophe Péraud rues missed opportunity at stage twelve finish
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Friday, July 13, 2012

Jean-Christophe Péraud rues missed opportunity at stage twelve finish

by Ben Atkins at 2:14 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Tour de France
 
Frenchman finishes a close second on the race’s longest stage after day long breakaway

jean-christophe peraudJean-Christophe Péraud started the 2012 Tour de France with the high expectations of a top ten finisher from last year. 2011 was the then 34-year-old’s debut in la Grand Boucle [although he had finished 38th in the previous year’s Vuelta a España - ed] and he ended the race in ninth place overall; one of three Frenchmen in the top ten. Like those other two - Europcar’s Thomas Voeckler (4th) and Pierre Rolland (10th) - Péraud has seen an early end to his overall ambitions in this race.

Unlike those two however, Péraud was just unable to take the considerable consolation of a stage victory on the road to Annonay Davézieux today. The mountainbiker, who will compete in the cross-country race at London 2012 next month, managed to get into the breakaway, then made the decisive move with two kilometres to go, but was just beaten at the finish by a stronger sprint from David Millar (Garmin-Barracuda).

"We knew from the outset that the breakaway had a good chance to be victorious, that’s why this stage was important,” he said after the stage. “Initially, I didn’t really believe in our chances of success. I thought that if the gap didn’t rise up to five minutes, this stage would end with a bunch sprint. Finally, the pack left us to compete for the stage win.”

Having established himself as part of a 19-man move in the early kilometres, it was not until the five remaining riders were truly secure of their position up the road until they reached the feedzone after more than 100km. Only after the Orica-GreenEdge team had neutralised a move that contained green jersey Peter Sagan (Liquigas-Cannondale) did the peloton finally sit up.

Once this had happened however, the five-man group was allowed to build up a lead of almost 134 minutes, meaning that one of them would be sure to take the stage victory.

“There were four strong men with me and it was like a little lottery,” Péraud explained. “I would have wished to have more success! It is clear that David [Millar] was stronger than me in the final part. I tried to do my best but whatever the manner used, I would have struggled to win today.”

As a mountainbiker, Péraud is a relatively new convert to road racing, having only turned pro with Omega Pharma-Lotto back in 2010 following his victory in the previous year’s French time trial championships.

“I still lack some experience,” he admitted. “I started this Tour with the objective to play the overall standings, but after a week my ambitions had already ended! Now I aim to win stages.”

Had Péraud been able to beat Millar to the line, it would have been France’s fourth of the race, and its third in three days after Voeckler and Rolland’s back to back Europcar triumphs. It would also have been a morale boost for his AG2R La Mondiale team, which has suffered a tough few days in the Alps, with team leader Nicolas Roche slipping out of the top ten on the tough finish at La Toussuire.

"We obviously hoped the stage victory but nonetheless it has been a good day for the AG2R La Mondiale team,” said team manager Vincent Lavenu. “We were at the forefront with Maxime [Bouet] and Jean-Christophe, who managed to go in the breakaway. Then, J.C. succeeded in hanging a small group in front.

:He fought well, he has dared and he has managed to open a gap in the final kilometres,” he added. “Unfortunately, David Millar was here with him and the finish was perfect for him. There are no regrets; on the contrary, everything was done to try to win.”

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