|Tech Features Road MTB Cyclocross Track News Photos Feedback|
Born: November 30, 1968
1st 2 stages Tour de France
1st Tour Mèditerranèen + stage
1st Setmana Catalana + stage
1st Vuelta a Asturias + 2 stages
1st Vuelta a Mallorca + stage
1st Vuelta a la Comunidad Valenciana + stage
1st Paris-Nice + stage
1st 7 stages Vuelta a España
1st Vuelta a Mallorca + 2 stages
1st stage Bicicleta Vasca
Laurent Jalabert needs little introduction. He is one of the all time great cyclists, winning World Championships, prestigious classics, stages in all the major tours (and the Vuelta Espana in 1995) and holding the number one UCI ranking from 1995 - 1999, with the exception of 1998 where he ended the year in second place. An impressively consistent rider, to say the least.
After eight years riding with the Spanish team ONCE, Jalabert chose end career with the Danish team CSC-Tiscali, signing for them in 2001. Despite an early season accident at home, he bounced back mid-year to put in an inspiring performance in the Tour de France, winning two stages and the King of the Mountains Jersey, a remarkable achievement for someone who had previously won the Green Jersey as best sprinter.
He is no stranger to comebacks either. In 1994 he was involved in a horrendous crash at the stage finish in Armentières in the Tour de France. He returned from this stronger than ever, winning 30 races in 1995 including the Green Jersey in the Tour, where he also finished 4th overall. That gave him the confidence to go for the overall victory in the Tour, but this turned out to be his least successful venture, with his best place since then being 19th in 2001.
Many thought that 2002 would be his final year in the peloton, but that is not the case, as Danish television commentator Dennis Ritter found out when he interviewed Jalabert for DR-TV. Dennis kindly supplied the transcript of the interview to Cyclingnews.
By Dennis Ritter, DR-TV Denmark
DR: Laurent Jalabert, how would you compare this CSC-Tiscali team for the 2002 season with any of the other teams that you have been a part of over the years?
LJ: This is a very ambitious team. I have the impression we are going to be very competitive. We have some very exciting new recruits who will certainly make up for whatever weaknesses we might have had this year. Especially with the signing of riders with climbing abilities and the new arrival of Tyler Hamilton, who has the strength and ability to become a great leader for the big tours. All in all, I feel this is a very complete team.
DR: What would your own personal objectives be for the new season?
LJ: First priority is to have another successful Tour de France. And I cannot specify "successful" at this early stage. Of course, to win the Tour is extremely difficult, and it's probably better to keep some focus on other objectives as well.
But the Tour is the biggest race of the year, and for me being French, it definitely is the most important race. Also, for a team as strong as like ours, the Tour will always remain the biggest goal of the whole year, and personally I will certainly concentrate most of my energy on this race.
DR: You achieved quite a lot in the Tour 2001, winning two stages and the mountains jersey. How do you intend to live up to that achievement and to deal with the expectations and pressure following your success this year?
LJ: I'm very aware that to reach the same level and have the same amount of success will be extremely difficult. It's impossible to predict if I can do as well as this year or not. I feel the most important thing is to be ready - to be motivated. We certainly will prepare consciously and professionally, but still you cannot predict the future. If opportunity presents itself, I will chase it, and I really hope for the same amount of success as last summer.
DR: Finally - you've said before that this 2002 season would most likely be your last in the peloton. Does that decision stand?
LJ: No...! It's true that this year, following my accident in the pre-season, I kind of lost morale and I felt like quitting at the end of this year. But today I can say that I want to be a professional bike rider in the year 2003 as well.
Of course, if this season turns out to be terrible for me - if I get injured again and this prevents me from reaching a satisfying level, then I could change my decision again. But at this moment, it absolutely feels like the right thing for me to continue through 2003.
DR: Do you have an idea as to where you would be riding in 2003, then - would you perhaps prefer staying with the Danish team?
LJ: Yes, for sure. We already talked about it. I feel very good in this team and I would love to be able to continue my career here.
Bjarne Riis: I was very happy to hear that Laurent wants to continue one more year, and that he would like to stay with us. His decision is an act of confidence in the team, and it proves to me that we have a good thing going, and that we have a very bright future. I know that Laurent is very happy with us, and happy with the spirit of the team. Also - his decision certainly shows, that he's still a rider with high personal ambitions.
1st stage 4 Tour
1st stage 7 Tour de France
1st KOM and combativity classifications Tour de France
1st Clasica San Sebastian
Also see: Laurent Jalabert's fan site
Other Talking Cycling Interviews