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By Julien Pretot
PARIS (Reuters) - St Etienne president Roland Romeyer has already started his four-day bike ride to Paris for Saturday's League Cup final where his club face Stade Rennes with both sides chasing a first trophy for more than 30 years.
While this cup is not as prestigious as the French Cup or even a Champions League qualifying spot, for the clubs meeting at the Stade de France it is a big deal as shown by Romeyer's vow to pedal there if his players reached the final.
St Etienne won the last of 16 major domestic titles when they clinched the league in 1981, while Rennes have not won anything since the 1971 French Cup.
The Brittany side have done little to boost their confidence before the final as they come into it on an eight-game winless streak, having failed to score in their last four matches.
"Two months without a win is a long, very long, time," coach Frederic Antonetti told reporters.
"We are in a difficult situation. Our opponents are the favourites. Given the situation, we are not the underdogs, we are the dead losers of that final.
"I'm not the only one who says that, just read the papers. But we'll give everything in this game."
Rennes, who will be without injured defender Herita Ilunga, can draw some hope from the fact that St Etienne, who had been in ominous form, suffered their first defeat of 2013 when they were knocked out of the French Cup quarter-finals on Tuesday.
"This is an untimely defeat," striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang told reporters after the 2-1 stoppage-time defeat by Lorient ended a 17-game unbeaten run in all competitions.
"But I do not think it is going to affect us for Saturday's final."
Midfielder Renaud Cohade agreed, adding: "I do not think it will destabilise the squad ahead of the final."
(Reporting by Julien Pretot; Editing by Sonia Oxley)