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"Obviously, we lack an important rider because of Rinaldo Nocentini's abandonment but we can count on Carlos Betancur who is improving day by day and will be a valuable asset on the Mont Faron," DS Jurdie says

Photo: Sirotti








16.02.2014 @ 11:15 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

Jean-Christophe Peraud (Ag2r) set himself up for another top result in the Tour Mediateraneen when he finished 4th in yesterday's time trial, just 15 seconds behind stage winner and new overall leader Stephen Cummings (BMC). With Carlos Betancur showing improving conditions, the veteran can count on a very strong Ag2r team in his quest to improve on last year's 2nd place in the French event.


Last year Jean-Christophe Peraud got very close to his first big win in a stage race when he won the queen stage to Mont Faron in the Tour Mediteraneen but missed out on the overall win on the final day, finishing the race in the same time as winner Thomas Löfkvist (IAM). This year he is back in the French event to improve on that 2nd place and he has go his race off to a solid start.


After surviving the first three sprint stages, Peraud first showed his cards in yesterday's hilly time trial when he finished 4th, just 15 seconds behind stage winner and new overall leader Stephen Cummings (BMC). Those results are directly reflected in the overall standings, meaning that Peraud is within shouting distance of the overall win in the historic French race.


Peraud faces an important test in today's final stage where he returns to the scene of last year's win on Mont Faron. While the Frenchman has proved his own strength on the climb, he can also count on a very strong team to support him.


The team lost former race winner Rinaldo Nocentini who crashed on stage 1 and abandoned one day later, but he can count on Colombian climbing star Carlos Betancur who is showing improving condition. The Colombian launched a solo attack in the finale of yesterday's morning stage and did a fine time trial to take 26th.


With an in-form Mikael Cherel also on hand, sports director Julien Jurdie hopes to benefit from the collective strength of his team.


"The result is quite favourable since Jean-Christophe Peraud's 4th allows us to get closer to our goal: the finale podium," he said." To be 15 seconds behind Cummings puts us in an interesting position and we still have beautiful hopes. We need to be wary of Riccardo Zoidl but we have opportunities and we will count on our collective strength. Obviously, we lack an important rider because of Rinaldo Nocentini's abandonment but we can count on Carlos Betancur who is improving day by day and will be a valuable asset on the Mont Faron. We must remain optimistic and say that the final victory is still within reach."


In addition to Peraud's 4th place, the team has Betancur in 21st on GC ahead of today's queen stage.



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