Christophe Le Mevel: “Maybe I was too defensive”
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Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Christophe Le Mevel: “Maybe I was too defensive”

by Ben Atkins at 10:59 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Tour de France
 

Christophe Le Mevel of la Française des Jeux finished 10th in last year’s Tour de France, just 14’25” behind winner Alberto Contador. Importantly for the then 28-year-old, he took the coveted position of best Frenchman in his National Tour. In an interview with French sports daily l’Equipe he outlined his plans for the coming year, including a desire to further improve on last year’s Tour finish.

“I want to show my ranking at the Tour de France was not due to chance,” he said. “I have already demonstrated in 2009 that I was worthy of the three best French races: I was 10th in Paris-Nice; Dauphiné Libéré 10th; 10th Tour de France. This season, I will try to do better and I want to be competitive from Paris-Nice.

“I especially want to raise my arms,” he said, expressing a desire to take a victory on the line.

“At some key moments of races maybe I was too defensive,” he conceded. “It’s a question of temperament and confidence. Sometimes after the finish of mountain stages, my data recorded during the race showed that I could have accompanied the leaders for a little longer. If I have the opportunity to attack, I shouldn’t hesitate any more...”

One area that Le Mevel will need to improve if he is to be truly competitive at this year’s Tour de France is his time trialling, especially if last year’s performances are anything to go by. He finished a lowly 128th in the 15.5km stage 1 in Monaco, 2’07” behind Fabian Cancellara, and 55th in the 40.5km stage 18 around Lake Annecy, losing 3’22” to Contador. (The fact that la Française des Jeux finished 14th in the Montpelier team time trial should not be a factor this year as the 2010 Tour will have no TTT)

“It is true that I have a lot of room for improvement,” he admitted. “Last year, I didn’t work on my time trialling at all outside races, but this week I'll finally have a time trial bike at home. I worked on my position in the wind tunnel but it is not easy to replicate those lessons on the road. And contrary to popular belief, I think if I'm improving against the clock, I can improve in parallel in the mountains.

Le Mevel will share team leadership with the team's other French hope Sandy Casar, but feels that this – rather than being a problem – gives the team an advantage. “It's a chance to have two of us at the front of the race,” he said. “We have the same race program, with Paris-Nice, the Tour of Catalonia, the Dauphiné and the Tour de France. We will try to support each other, depending on the form that we have during the race.”

Having spent his entire career at Credit Agricole, mostly as a helper for riders like sprinter Thor Hushovd, Le Mevel found that the move to la Française des Jeux gave him more opportunity to work towards his own goals.

“Last year, I gained personal confidence and also the team's confidence by showing that I could do great things,” he said. “I do not need to do too much: we are all professionals in the team and we have team managers to pass on their knowledge.”

“But I did learn to assert myself," he concluded.

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