It’s there for the taking for French sprinter Jimmy Casper
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Friday, January 21, 2011

It’s there for the taking for French sprinter Jimmy Casper

by Ben Atkins at 7:39 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Tour de France
 
Saur-Sojasun comfortable at smaller team and could be making his return to the Tour de France

jimmy casperJimmy Casper (Saur-Sojasun) is looking at the prospect of his first Tour de France since 2008. Despite spending the last two years at the French Professional Continental team (which was Continental in 2009) the sprinter from Picardie has proved that he can still mix it with the big boys, beating a number of them in stage one of the Tour of Oman.

“Everything is there for the taking,” he told l’Equipe at the team’s presentation. “At the start of every race, I set out with the will to win.”

The last time many of us saw Casper though, he was sliding down the steep cobbled surface of the Kemmelberg on his face in one of 2007’s grizzliest YouTube classics. The injuries that the he picked up in that edition of Gent-Wevelgem were partly responsible for the fact that we hardly saw him again that season; the big reason though was that he was riding for Unibet.com, the team that found itself a pawn in the battle between the Grand Tour organisers and the International Cycling Union (UCI).

He rode with Agritubel in 2009, taking a number of small victories but struggled in the big races, his biggest result being a third place in stage 8 of the Tour de France; the following year he took a step down to the team that was then called Besson Chaussures-Sojasun but hasn’t looked back.

“It’s felt like I’m on a health cure since I’ve been here,” he said. “I have found the confidence that I had lost and that’s thanks to Stéphane [Heulot] and his team managers. At my previous teams I felt that I was just not good enough and had no confidence, and when you’re not good in your head you can’t win.”

During the 2008 Tour de France he tested positive for corticosteroid in the Tour. He was entirely exonerated after it transpired that the therapeutic use exemption (TUE) certificate that he’d held for 12 years, for use of the product to treat his asthma, had expired a month before the race. He raced the rest of the season for Agritubel, but the incident was a contributor to the team not renewing his contract.

“I needed support at that time,” he said, slightly bitterly.

On signing for his current team he has been able to relax and his result have reflected this.

"Before, I did not hold all the cards,” he said. “I fought too often and didn’t leave myself enough energy to win races; now I have guys who ride for me. We are the only ones doing that and it brings me serenity; it is very important.”

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