Berry runner Marc Sarreau starts his season this Sunday on the UAE Tour, a race he will compete in for the second time after 2019. An event where he can compete with a very large field of sprinters. After a hectic winter, the AG2R Citroën driver isn’t exactly expecting to go head-to-head with the big names this week.
Do you feel fit for the start of the season? Things have been going pretty well since the end of the second AG2R Citroën internship, which I had to cut short after testing positive for Covid-19. I took a few days off to get the fatigue under control and after that I was able to ride well. I’ve been driving very, very well for three weeks. I’m happy. I went south last week for good weather conditions. I calmed down. I’m at a decent level now, which allows me to start the race a little more relaxed.
“We have a sword of Damocles over our heads”
This internship in the south, was it your own initiative? Since I had to go back earlier, had missed part of the collection course and the conditions really weren’t bad, I looked for the good weather. It allowed me to work a bit in the passes. It always feels good and there I needed it even more than usual.
Given the quality of the UAE Tour sprinter field, you’ll quickly know where you stand. Will you try to confront yourself with the best? Really not. It’s really a catch-up race for the team and for me. The idea will be to reposition myself, to bring the wheels back into competition. If everything goes well, then of course I won’t let the sprint take me away. There’s no problem. But I know I’m not 100% at all. If I can’t, it’s nothing to worry about. And when I succeed, it’s just a bonus and quickly gives me the confidence to keep going.
Marc Sarreau invests in young people and will have a challenge on his behalf at Berry
Did you already find out about trains during the internship? We won’t have a train to take me. I’ll make do with the weapons of the moment. We’ll see how we do with the team there, but I think I’ll do it on my own.
You say you’re not in good shape yet. When are you expected to be? For me it’s a bit strange cover, a bit like last year. She comes after a long break (in connection with her injury at the Tour du Poitou-Charentes at the end of August, editor’s note). It can be quick or it can take a little longer to get back into shape. The preparation was a bit bumpy with the Covid. I’m not used to doing jagged preparations, where the level starts to rise, then you have to rest, then you have to start again. It’s a bit strange, but the feelings have gotten better over the past three weeks. I was really surprised because it went in the right direction quickly. It’s good for morale, but I’m entering the unknown.
What memories do you have of the UAE tour? It’s often quite mild, but it’s not a heat wave either. Acclimatization is doable if you are from Europe. Otherwise it’s a pretty quiet race. There are long straights, even the top finishes are dry. There is “no difficulty” for a sprinter. For a cover, it’s very, very good. The only risk is the edges.
bonus Marc Sarreau has resumed training after a fall and surgery: “I’ll find my level”
When we’re in the race, do we realize it’s World Tour?? In a race like this, you have the top 20 teams in the world and everyone has their number 1 sprinter, so inevitably everyone is at war and things move much faster. There is a difference to a Coupe de France where there are only two or three teams that have the elements to do the sprint and are behind the others trying to hold the wheels.
Does the Covid ax that can prevent you or a teammate from starting cause additional stress? We have to deal with that, but inevitably there is this uncertainty. During the internship I had the Covid just a month and a half ago, so I inevitably felt a bit “calm”. I ended up having one more positive test… And there, on the UAE tour, the rules are strict: if my roommate is positive we would be put in solitary immediately, we would have to do two or three more tests to make sure it was positive and in that case we would be isolated there for ten days. We really have to be careful because this sword of Damocles is hanging over our heads. Knock on wood so it doesn’t fall on me.