Menthéour reborn as rock star

One-time great French prospect and later self-confessed doper Erwan Menthéour always wanted to sing,

One-time great French prospect and later self-confessed doper Erwan Menthéour always wanted to sing,
PICTURE BY TIM DE WAELE Once one of the brightest stars of French cycling, Erwan Menthour left the sport in 1998 aged just 24 and carrying the stigma of being the first rider to fall foul of the then recently introduced 'health' test setting a haematocrit level of 50 per cent. Now the former FDJ rider and time trial specialist has been reborn as a rock singer and makes his Parisian concert debut tonight at the Bataclan theatre. Forced out of the sport by injury ironically after quitting the 1998 Tour de l'Avenir when leading the race, Menthour was back in the headlines the following season when he published a warts-and-all insight into life as a professional cyclist, 'Scret Dfonce'. But a new career was already emerging for the Frenchman. By the end of 2000 he had signed a recording contract and in June 2001 released his first single. Earlier this year his first album went on sale. In recent weeks Parisian billboards have been plastered with posters of a moody-looking Menthour to promote tonight's first concert, where another French poster boy, Richard Virenque, will be in the audience. "In the cycling environment I was a solitary guy," Menthour says in today's L'Equipe. "I didn't feel at all comfortable. I rode a bike to please my father and to be like my brother (ex-pro Pierre-Henri). But when I was 25 I got it into my head that I wanted to be musician. I've always wanted to sing." In recent months Menthour has appeared in front of huge crowds and, with a nod to his past, says that he is now "addicted to people. Dope is something that destroys your soul."

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