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An interview with Jérôme Pineau, March 6, 2005
This year, Paris-Nice has special significance as both the first top-level stage race of the season and the opening salvo in the new, season-long ProTour series. Bouygues Télécom rider Jérôme Pineau is one of the young hopes of French cycling, and a big fan of both Paris-Nice and the ProTour idea, as he tells Stéphanie Langlais.
Cyclingnews: Jérôme, what do you expect in this edition of Paris-Nice?
Jérôme Pineau: I hope to do well, to play an active role and be a protagonist in the race. I'd like to finish in the top 10-15 overall or win a stage. But it's best not to be too idealistic. It's too easy to say I'm going to do this or that. The competition will be very tough, like every year, but even more-so with the ProTour.
CN: How have you been preparing?
JP: Since the beginning of the season I've prepared for this race as my big objective. I've done a lot of good work this winter, differently than in other years, with more specific training based on intensity to push my limits further. I'm able to listen to my body better. I wanted to test this preparation with my new trainer [Ismael Mottier], with the goal of building the pressure to hit Paris-Nice in top form.
For the moment, racing has served only as preparation; I haven't raced at 100 percent so as not to spend too much energy. I've also worked hard mentally to let myself put aside my ambition. It's tough to accept going to a race knowing that I have to forget about the overall classification! Particularly since I'm riding much better in the early season, ever since l'Etoile de Besseges. But I've learned to drop some of my old habits. This hard work, it's what suits me best. I have no doubts... I'm optimistic.
CN: So you should be happy that Paris-Nice is finally here!
JP: Yes, I can't wait to get going and see what I'm worth.
CN: How is the team going to organise itself?
JP: We're going to figure out our tactics right before the race. Thomas (Voeckler) and I will be somewhat protected, but beyond that we'll see how each stage goes. We're coming with a very strong and unified team. We want to show that we're a factor. I see us having four for the overall classification: Pierrick Fedrigo, Laurent Lefèvre, Thomas and me. If one of us gets into a good breakaway, he'll become the leader.
CN: Paris-Nice marks the start of the ProTour. Does that create any additional pressure?
JP: I wouldn't call it pressure, rather desire. There's additional desire, but the pressure was on not making it into the ProTour! Paris-Nice is always a beautiful race, ProTour or no. But we have to think about it.
CN: What do you think of the presence of Lance Armstrong?
JP: If he rides with his teammates like in the Tour de France, there won't be much room for the others! But that's a team that knows better than the rest how to control a race.
CN: Which races are you going to tackle after Paris-Nice?
JP: I'm going to rest a bit first! After that I'll focus on a major objective: the three [Ardennes] classics. I already know the Flèche Wallonne and Liège-Bastogne-Liège. My goal is to be there In the end of these two races, to be in the top ten in Flèche Wallonne, or at least to play a role. People say I have the potential to do well in the classics, but still, before choosing an objective you have to master them.
CN: You showed what you were capable of in the World Cup classics last year...
JP: My third place in the Championship of Zurich gave me a lot of ideas. All of these races make me dream, particularly Liège-Bastogne-Liège. It's also for that race that I've started this specific training.
CN: The ProTour should be a good thing for you in this sense: it will let you do more races of a higher level.
JP: Definitely. The ProTour will help me improve. I'm all for it, and I've always said so! We have the opportunity to do the best races in the world, with the best riders in the world, and we can create a real cycling culture. It's insane to say no to that. If a young rider says he's against it, it's because he has no ambition. He's not happy because he'll lose his little bit of national notoriety, he won't have four pages in the local paper for doing well in the smallest races in France! For me, I'd rather lose than win a race where there's no competition.
CN: Will the arrival of Laurent Brochard at Bouygues Télécom bring some experience that the team may be lacking?
JP: Yes, and particularly because Laurent knows how to pass this experience along. Plus, he's still fresh, he's present throughout the whole season. He's a sure bet for the team to win races.
CN: You're going to have to ride two grand tours as well as a number of other tough races. Does that seem like too much?
JP: I'm not worried because the program is laid out well. We have periods of rest. I'm going to ride the Tour de France and the Vuelta, but in August I'll only have two days of racing. The Tour de France is the big objective of the season. We'll see... In any case, the Vuelta will have a different significance depending on whether I go well in the Tour or not. If I do a good Tour, the Vuelta will almost be a bonus. On the other hand, if I don't do well, I'll give everything I have in Spain.
Translated by Chris Henry