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Christophe_Moreau

Christophe Moreau

Christophe Moreau (born April 12 1971 in Vervins) is a French professional road racing cyclist who rides for the French team Agritubel. For many years Moreau was considered a great hope for French cycling; however, he has rarely lived up to expectation, only twice finishing in the top 10 of the Tour de France.

Early Professional Career

Moreau debuted as a professional in 1995 with the Festina cycling team. He was a time trialist early in his career which brought him the victory in the Tour de l'Avenir prologue. He finished the 1997 Tour de France in 19th place overall.

Festina affair

Moreau continued his progression the following year when he won the final time trial and overall of the 1998 Criterium International. However he tested positive for anabolic steroids for that performance. Festina Team director Bruno Roussel defended Moreau by saying it was another member of the support staff who had deceived the cyclist and caused him to take the anabolic steroids. As a result of this defence which was put forward by his lawyer, Moreau was able to continue competition. However during the 1998 Tour de France after the Festina team soigneur Willy Voet was caught at the French-Belgian border, a doping scandal was uncovered which was referred to as the Festina affair. Moreau along with two other members of the Festina team, Laurent Brochard and Armin Meier, admitted taking EPO after being arrested and were ejected from the race. Confessing alongside the other team members - except Richard Virenque - Moreau served a six-month suspension before returning to racing.

Post suspension career

Moreau returned to the 1999 Tour de France where he placed 3rd in the stage 8 individual time trial behind American Lance Armstrong and Swiss Alex Zulle and finished the Tour in the 25th place.

In the 2000 Tour de France, Moreau finished a career best with fourth place behind Lance Armstrong, Jan Ullrich and Spanish Festina teammate Joseba Beloki. This demonstrated him as a competent climber. This was the first time he finished as highest placed French rider at the Tour and it fueled hopes that he could win the race some day. He would finish highest placed French rider in the 2003, 2004 and 2005 editions of the Tour de France.

In 2001 and still riding for Festina, Moreau won the prestigious stage race the Dauphiné Libéré. Moreau took the lead on the fifth stage by only one second over Russian Pavel Tonkov On the following day, both finished together second and third on the stage where there were no seconds awarded at the stage finish. Moreau withstood the many attacks of Tonkov on the final stage to win the race. Several weeks later, he won the prologue of the 2001 Tour de France and put on the maillot jaune. Moreau was presented with the a maillot jaune by two podium girls. One of which he began a relationship after meeting on the Tour podium and would later marry. Moreau ended the Tour prematurely when he withdrew on the 12th stage. Festina choose to end its sponsorship of a cycling team so Moreau joined Crédit Agricole.

Career at Crédit Agricole

In 2002, in his first race of the season, Moreau crashed and broke his collarbone Moreau finished third overall in the Dauphiné Libéré behind the American teammates Lance Armstrong and Floyd Landis. In the 2002 Tour de France Moreau crashed on a descent on stage 15 and had to abandon again.

In 2003, Moreau won the Four Days of Dunkirk race before going on to finish 8th in the 2003 Tour de France. At a pre season training camp in 2004, Moreau injured his knee which delayed his return to competition. His first win of the year came in the Trophée des Grimpeurs in May. Two weeks later he won the Tour du Languedoc Roussillon stage race. In the 2004 Tour de France, he was again the best French finisher in 12th place. During the 2005 Tour de France, he went very close to wearing the maillot jaune in the first days in the Alps but fell back to finish in the 11th place. At this time his team Credit Agricole publicly expressed their dissatisfaction with his results and he left the team for AG2R Prévoyance. Moreau finished 11th overall in the 2005 Tour de France.

Career after Crédit Agricole

Moreau was expected to support his new teammate Francisco "Paco" Mancebo at the 2006 Tour de France who had finished the 2005 Tour de France in fourth place. In the Dauphiné Libéré, Moreau finished second on the general classification behind Leiphimer and won the king of the mountains competition. When the Operation Puerto doping scandal was revealed the day before the Tour began, Mancebo was banned from competing in the Tour and Moreau became the leader for the general classification. After teammate Cyril Dessel took the maillot jaune on stage 11, Moreau worked for Dessel to try to preserve Dessel’s high placing. On the 19th stage Moreau attacked on the climb to bring himself further up the classification and he finished the 2006 Tour de France in the 8th place behind Dessel(Moreau moved up to 7th place after the disqualification of Floyd Landis).

In the latter part of his career he was considered a 'clean' rider, and told reporters in 2007 that it had a big impact on him as a racer. "For my part, I paid for what I did," he said. "All I know is that I came out of it stronger. It transformed my life."

In the Dauphiné Libéré, Moreau demonstrated great form and panache. In the second stage with 40 km to go, he attacked with several others. With 7 km to go Moreau was driving the pace with Spaniard José Antonio Redondo. At the end of the stage, Redondo did not contest the sprint as he had not been working in the break, Moreau took the stage and the leader's jersey. On the following stage 3 Individual time trial, Moreau finished way back and lost over around 3 minutes. But on the stage to the legendary Mont Ventoux, Moreau attacked on the ascent and won the stage with over a minute on the second place finisher and over two minutes on his rivals for the general classification. He then lay in second overall 14 seconds behind the yellow jersey which he took back on stage six to win the race. Two weeks later, he carried that same form to win the French national cycling championships. Despite being a favourite for the Individual time trial championships, Moreau finished way far back, but his form showed itself in the National cycling championships road race, in which he attacked his two breakaway companions with 40km to the finish. He built up a great lead and won the championships with over two minutes over the second and third place finishers. At 36 years of age, he won his first French champion title and pulled on the tricolour jersey. Moreau started the 2007 Tour de France in good form and was in the top ten of the general classification after the first mountain stages of the Alps. However after a crash in the fifteenth stage, Moreau fell back in the general classification and rode one of the pyrenian stages in the gruppetto, which is the part of the peloton for the riders who wish only to make the time limit imposed on a mountain stage to remain in the race.

In September 2007, Moreau, citing financial reasons, announced that he was leaving AG2R Prévoyance and was signing a one-year contract with Agritubel for the 2008 season. . In the 2008 Tour de France Moreau quit the race during the 7th Stage.

Career achievements

1995 (Festina)

See also

References

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