Late bloomer Peraud has a podium finish in sight

Wed Jul 23, 2014 6:19pm EDT
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By Julien Pretot

ST LARY PLAT D'ADET France (Reuters) - With the focus on the podium battle between youngsters Romain Bardet and Thibaut Pinot in the Tour de France, another Frenchman, veteran Jean-Christophe Peraud, blossomed late in the race on Wednesday.

Peraud, 37, who has only been a road race professional for five years, is Bardet's team mate at AG2R-La Mondiale.

He is fourth in the overall standings, 6:08 behind Italian Vincenzo Nibali, but a mere eight seconds adrift of the 24-year-old Pinot.

Pinot retained his third place overall despite struggling in the 17th stage on Wednesday.

Bardet, 23, lost almost all hope of finishing on the podium when he relinquished the white jersey for the best Under-25 rider to Pinot by cracking in Tuesday's Pyrenean stage to Bagneres de Luchon.

On Tuesday, Peraud managed to finish with Pinot despite the rider's brutal acceleration in the last climb and on Wednesday, he was the one dropping the young gun.

He powered away from the group of favorites in the climb up to Le Plat d'Adet with yellow jersey holder Nibali and gained more than 50 seconds on Pinot.

"It's the third week, it's tough every day," said Peraud, his face dripping with sweat. "It's all in the head now."   Continued...