By Andrew Hood
Moreau hoping for more at Credit Agricole
After an up-and-down career, French veteran Christophe Moreau is hoping to be on the upswing again in 2005. Fourth overall in the 2000 Tour de France, he’ll lead Credit Agricole once again in the Tour, where he hopes to nudge closer to the final podium.
“I know that I can do a lot better than these last years. 2000 remains my reference year. I was not on the podium, but fourth of the Tour, I wouldn’t have believed it,” Moreau said in an interview on the team’s web page. “Since then I have not always been very lucky, but I know that sooner or later I will do just as well, if not better.”
There’s been a lot of speculation in the French media that Moreau might be able to make a run for the King of the Mountains polka-dot jersey following the retirement of Richard Virenque.
“Everyone is asking me this question. The polka-dot jersey was almost the unique objective for Richard during the season. I had regular results throughout the 2004 season and I intend continuing like that this year. The polka-dot jersey is not a priority,” he said.
“Of course, I would also be delighted to have this jersey, win a major mountain stage after a solitary breakaway, but I also know that if Armstrong is there, his teammates will never allow me to escape like they would do with Richard or Laurent Jalabert, who did not represent any danger for the general classification.”
Moreau said he expects some extra help in the mountains with the arrival of new teammates such as Pietro Caucchioli. After the Tour, Moreau said he will race the Vuelta a España with an eye on the world championships in Madrid.
“We preferred to choose this option rather than the Giro in May. So I will remain concentrated on my preparation until July for the Tour de France. This is the first time in my career that I am participating in two major tours during the same season,” he said. “This will be, I think, a good experience. In September, I will be free and, who knows, luck might smile on me. The Vuelta will also be good preparation for the Madrid world championships.”
Valencia attracts top riders
The Trofeo Luis Puig (February 19) and the Vuelta Ciclista a la Comunidad Valenciana (February 22-26) is attracting an all-star lineup of sprinters and all-rounders preparing for more important goals later in the season.
Among the teams lining up next month include Spanish teams Euskaltel Euskadi, Illes Balears, Liberty Seguros and Saunier Duval-Prodir; French teams Cofidis and Credit Agricole; Italian teams Fassa Bortolo and Liquigas-Bianchi; and T-Mobile, Rabobank and Discovery Channel.
Among the names confirmed include Viatcheslav Ekimov, Angel Casero, Oscar Sevilla, Alessandro Petacchi, Alexandre Vinokourov, Santos González, Iban Mayo, Roberto Heras and Alejandro Valverde.
The 25th Luis Puig features a 174km course from Valencia to Benidorm, a race that usually comes down to a field sprint. The five-day Valencia tour features a mixed course with stages well-suited for sprinters, but with the balance likely tipped during the summit finish in the 160km Stage 4 from Alzira to Alto del Campello.
French like to race at home
It’s no secret French people are happier in France, and that’s the same for French riders. Of all the major pros, only Nicolas Frisch isn’t racing on a French team. After five seasons at FDJeux.com, Frisch has joined the Spanish Saunier Duval team for the 2005 season.
He’ll start his season at Mallorca, followed by Ruta del Sol, Paris-Nice, Criterium International, Basque Country, Flèche Wallonne, Liège-Bastogne-Liège, Dauphiné Libéré and the Tour de France.