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"In the final part, I counted every second to be able to win the overall classification. I had nothing against letting someone get clear, but I knew that Mathias Frank was the only one I couldn't permit to break away if I wanted to...

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JEAN-CHRISTOPHE PÉRAUD

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30.03.2014 @ 23:01 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

Having had a late start to his road career, Jean-Christophe Peraud took his first big stage race win at the age of 36 when he continued his excellent start to the season by winning the Criterium International. With the race all coming down to a matter of seconds on the final climb of the Col de l'Ospedale, it was a tactical battle all the way to the line, with Peraud taking a narro one-second win over Mathias Frank.

 

Since turning his back to the mountainbike to focus fully on the road, Jean-Christophe Peraud has proved that he has all the skills to be an excellent stage race. He has been knocking on the door for the big stage race win for quite a while but until now it has always eluded him.

 

Peraud has finished second in the Tour Mediteraneen no less than three times and ended on the podium in the 2012 Paris-Nice but has always missed that tiny bit that is the difference between victory and a place of honour. This year, however, he has indicated that he has raised his level.

 

He started the season off by winning the queen stage of the Tour Mediteraneen for the second time in his career to score another overall runner-up spot in the event. He went on to take fourth overall at the WorldTour level in Tirreno-Adriatico.

 

His excellent results made him the natural favourite for the Criterium International and after performing well in yesterday's time trial, he finished off the work in today's queen stage of the Col de l'Ospedale. With the GC being very close, it all came down to seconds on the final climb and Peraud had to dig really deep to follow stage winner Mathias Frank in the finale.

 

He managed to stay on his wheel and even though bonus seconds brought his advantage down from five to one second, it was enough to take that elusive win.

 

“I have the sense of having accomplished my duty," he said. "The Criterium International was a bit more open this year and it was an opportunity not to be missed. This is a great event and I’m glad to win it, it’s really a sheer happiness. I have been looking for a victory in a stage race for a while and now it’s done.

 

"In the final part, I counted every second to be able to win the overall classification. I had nothing against letting someone get clear, but I knew that Mathias Frank was the only one I couldn't permit to break away if I wanted to win. In the leading group, there were attacks but also slowdowns, it was really psychologically difficult.

 

"The whole Ag2r team have once again worked well and Alexis (Vuillermoz) had a very important role in the final kilometers. He has widely made his contribution to this victory by accelerating and thereby leaving behind some strong riders. Next goal for me is the Vuelta al Pais Vasco, a race that I particularly enjoy.”

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