Jean-Christophe Péraud (Ag2r-La Mondiale) admits the media attention that came with being the best Frenchman in the Tour de France in more than a decade has cost him.
In an interview released by his team Tuesday, the veteran Frenchman said media obligations over the winter have left him short of form coming into his 2015 season debut.
“My winter training was not perfect. Because of my second place in Le Tour, I have been busier with some media. I also had two minor surgeries,” Péraud said. “I am not in top shape.”
Second overall in last year’s Tour, Péraud makes his 2015 season debut at the Clásica de Almería on Sunday before racing the five-day Ruta del Sol next week in southern Spain.
Péraud will match up with Chris Froome (Sky), Nairo Quintana (Movistar), and Alberto Contador (Tinkoff-Saxo) in what is a star-studded start list for the Spanish race.
The 37-year-old admitted he isn’t expecting big things next week in Spain.
“The Andalusian races will give me a good opportunity to ride [with] some good riders in a world-class race,” he said. “I don’t have specific goals right now. I expect that it will be difficult. I am ready to suffer!”
Péraud already has a roadmap for his approach to the Tour de France. In March, he will race Paris-Nice, followed by what he calls his first major goal of the season, at the Vuelta al País Vasco (Tour of the Basque Country) in early April, where he finished on the podium in third last year.
After that, he’ll skip the Ardennes classics, and likely race the Tour de Romandie and the Critérium du Dauphiné in June before final tune-ups ahead of the Tour.
Last July, Péraud was one of the sensations of the Tour, riding steadily into contention to become the best Frenchman in the Tour since Richard Virenque was second in 1997.
“After Froome and Contador crashed, the race was more open. That was a good thing for me,” he said. “I had a top-five in mind, but I realized that a podium was possible during the last week. When I look back on these incredible three weeks, I am reminded of the good moments with [my teammates].”