Interview – Anthony Charteau – TDF 2010 – King of the Mountains.

15 Feb

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Last year’s king of the mountains on the Tour de France, Anthony Charteau took some time out from training to answer questions posed to him by Team Europcar fans. Here are some of his answers.

Where have you put your polka dot jersey?

It’s on the wall of my bedroom. I think a lot about this jersey. I am extremely proud to have won it and already I’m bent on defending it in the 2011 Tour de France.

 

What are your objectives this year?

Above all I’m targeting all the stage races from April through to August. But the priority is the French national championships and the Tour de France.

 

Are you racing Paris-Nice?

No, I’m giving it a miss. Climactically, the course doesn’t really suit me. I know the route pretty well and I prefer to let it go this year.

 

Who’s the best French climber?

David Moncoutié and then John Gadret

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What do you think about the Contador situation?

It’s a very complicated situation which has been dealt with in a terrible way. The story broke too quickly and it became a talking point before anything was properly known. The whole thing still lacks clarity.

 

Do all these doping cases not get you down?

Not at all. On the contrary, the behaviour of the peloton has greatly changed in the last few years. The tests are clearly working. If there are positives then it’s shows that the cheaters are being caught.

 

Do you think life bans would deter people like Riccardo Ricco from breaking the rules?

It’s difficult to say. For EPO and transfusions there should be a minimum four-year ban. Severe bans like this would act as a deterrent for young riders who would be afraid of not getting back to their level in the peloton. I am all for dissuasive sanctions.

 

You decided to stay at Europcar this season. Was it a hard decision?

No, I was always sure of staying with the team. I have the utmost confidence in Jean-René Bernadeau. I would never have left the team unless I was told I had to.

 

After your polka-dot jersey, were you contacted by other teams offering you more money?

Yes. With all the problem we had with sporting out a new sponsor, I was approached. But it was my priority to stay alongside Jean-René.

 

You seem very close to Jean-René Bernadeau and he seems more to you than just a sporting director. Is that right?

It’s true, we are very close. He advises us on everything within the team. I’d like to work with him for as long as possible. He’s always asking Thomas and I to share our thoughts and opinions. We’re never dispute with him. He doesn’t have a go at us and we listen to everything he has to say.

 

What do you think of the 2011 Tour route? Does it suit you?

It’s a very tricky route, very mountainous. There will be less spring finishes, that’s for sure. Many fighters (“baroudeurs”) are going to be able to think about the general classification. Personally, I like the Tour route very much.

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Do you not believe that the polka-dot jersey has lost some of its value seeing that the best climbers aren’t really that interested in fighting for it?

I don’t think so. The polka-dot jersey has always been won by a good climber. Whatever the case, there are still 20 or so huge climbs to get over. There’s only a selection of around 10 to 15 riders who can realistically win the jersey. No more than that. The top three in the GC may not be so interested in the polka-dot jersey but, even so, there are loads of others who want to win it.

 

Who’s your favourite for the overall Tour victory?

Andy Schleck without a doubt. Unless Contador is there, but that looks rather unlikely.

 

Will you and Europcar feel a little more pressure seeing that the Tour starts in the Vendée region?

No, not really. Unfortunately, the terrain of the Vendée isn’t really suited to our strengths – we’re more of team of climbers and baroudeurs. That said, we’ll certainly have a go and try something special for the locals.

 

Which is the best team?

Leopard Trek, without a doubt.

 

What is your main priority for the Tour – a stage win or the polka-dot jersey?

I’d say the polka-dot jersey, even if I have already won it before. It’s something I can focus on throughout the three weeks and it requires a lot of concentration and regularity. I’d put this above winning a stage – although I wouldn’t exactly say no if the chance came along!

 

Who is your favourite all time rider?

I’ve never really modelled myself on anyone. I used to love Indurain and Pantani but they weren’t idols of mine.

 

Do you think that a Frenchman could make the podium?

Honestly, unless in the case of a huge breakaway, I don’t see a Frenchman on the podium. But you have to remain positive. With the type of climbs on the route, anything is possible.

 

Are you for or against race radio?

I’m against. Without race radio team-mates would be forced to work better together and take more responsibility on the road.

 

Who is team leader, you or Thomas Voeckler

There won’t really be one leader in particular. There will however be certain protected riders, such as me and Thomas.

 

Who can challenge Mark Cavendish in the sprints this year?

I think he’s going to dominate the sprints even more this season.

 

What do you think separates the level of the peloton’s French riders and those who have won the recent Grand Tours? It is a question of training, talent or work ethics?

We haven’t yet come across the uncut diamond. In the current peloton there are perhaps only four or five riders who can actually win a Grand Tour. It’s a generation thing. It’s not as if we are working any less than the others. If it was merely a question of working for seven hours solid every day to win the Tour, believe me, I’d do it!

 

Do you think that Europcar isn’t as strong as the old BBox team last year?

We have lost some good riders such as Pierrick Fedrigo. But collectively we’re stronger. We’re extremely together and we focus hard on each race. That much is clear since the beginning of the season and such a team spirit will make up for the losses in personnel.

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