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"For Thibaut to win, he needs a summit finish. When he finished second in stages of the Tour behind Nibali who won four, it was more valuable that many victories taken by other riders in smaller races."

Photo: Sirotti










28.01.2015 @ 12:03 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

The final training camp for the FDJ team ended last Wednesday in Calpe. All riders except Mickael Delage have been able to train under the sun and do a good job to prepare for the first races. The team has already been in action at the Tour Down Under and on February 1, the team will be at the start of the GP La Marseillaise before riding Etoile de Besseges and the Tour of the Qatar. Team manager Marc Madiot hopes to achieve another successful season and counts on three leaders to reach the goals: Arnaud Demare, Thibaut Pinot and Arthur Vichot.


However, Madiot also wants some of his young riders to step up.


“We want to stabilize the level of the team at the top,” he said in an interview published on the team website. “This will require us to work around our leaders Thibaut Pinot, Arnaud Démare and Arthur Vichot. We also have expectations for riders like Johan Le Bon, Olivier Le Gac, Pierre-Henri Lecuisinier, Kevin Reza, Kenny Elissonde and Alexander Géniez. They must confirm their progress.”


Last year Thibaut Pinot had an outstanding season that saw him finish third in the Tour de France. However, the Frenchman failed to win a single race.


“For me, the great leaders – those who fight for the general classification in the Tour – are not the ones that win the most. For Thibaut to win, he needs a summit finish. When he finished second in stages of the Tour behind Nibali who won four, it was more valuable that many victories taken by other riders in smaller races. But of course, Thibaut needs to raise his arms like any rider. It will be better for his confidence.”


The successful season means that there was no reason to change his schedule.


“It remains almost the same,” Madiot confirmed. “The courses offered by the organizers decide the program. Right now, for example, he does not know yet if it will do the Critérium du Dauphiné or the Tour de Suisse.”


Pinot has been criticized for not riding much in France.


“He will be at the Grand Prix "La Marseillaise", the Etoile de Bessèges, the Critérium International and the Critérium du Dauphiné if the course suits him. Sometimes the organizers thank us for fielding a good team but we don’t try to please them. We make our choices based on the sporting aspect.”


Pinot won’t be at the start of Paris-Nice.


“Because Tirreno-Adriatico with a summit finish suits him better,” Madiot said. “Paris-Nice is in March, there are echelons in the first stages, it's cold, it's a demanding race. In March, Thibaut is still far from its objectives. But don’t worry. FDJ team will field a competitive team in Paris-Nice.”


The team’s second big leader is Demare who won 15 races in 2014, only surpassed by André Greipel with 16 wins.


“Arnaud did not win a WorldTour race in 2014 but he did so in the past,” Madiot said. “It is a matter of circumstances and for him, as for us, there is no difference. Any race is good to win.”


Demare has done nothing to hide his intention to shine in the cobbled classics.


“Paris-Roubaix suits him well,” Madiot said. “He did not miss much to get a good result in 2014. He was inches from winning Ghent-Wevelgem.”


One of the most anticipated battles in 2015 will be the one between Demare and arch-rival Nacer Bouhanni who has left the team in favour of Cofidis. However, Madiot plays the rivalry down.


“I have nothing to do with that duel,” he said. “What matters is winning and no matter against whom. My priority is to win.”


In 2014, FDJ tried to field a competitive team for every WorldTour race but may adopt a new approach in 2015.


“We are in a transition year,” Madior said. “We have young sprinters, Marc Sarreau and Lorenzo Manzin who must be given some time but we have riders who must prove their worth, Le Bon, Le Gac, Reza, Lecuisiner. In any case, they continue to progress and some of them have to win some races.”


The final leader of the team is Arthur Vichot whose season was hampered by injuries.


“After his success in Paris-Nice (stage win and third overall), he had a complicated year with crashes and illness,” Madiot said. “Arthur is one of those riders who are guaranteed to win something beautiful every year. I have no doubt he will do well in the stages of Paris-Nice or elsewhere, in the Ardennes classics, Plouay, Montreal. He is like Thibaut and Arnaud: he has matured.”


In the past, FDJ had lots of riders who were able to win races but in 2014, only four riders contributed to the victories.


“We work around our leaders and it leaves less room for their teammates,” Madiot said. “We have to focus on the WorldTour. It's not spectacular and we are forced to take this into account even if it's not my cup of tea. Cycling has changed. The time when we were French fighters, are over. The numbers are clear: 80% of the races are decided in a sprint, the others are decided in a summit finish. So we must focus on our strengths. The approach 'we take the start and then we will see along the way' is no longer possible.


“Everyone will get their chance at least once in a year but again, the business has changed. I understand that everybody doesn’t like it but then he has to look elsewhere. The riders have a contract and make a living by doing their work. If he doesn’t, he will no longer be part of the team. The requirement of cycling today is that each rider must quickly understand what he can achieve. We will try to give our two young sprinters Marc Sarreau and Lorrenzo Manzin the best opportunities but if after a while they do not win, they will have to adapt and work differently.”


One of the key signings over the winter is Steve Morabito who comes from BMC.


“He really likes Thibaut,” Madiot said.” Steve has a very interesting profile because he has a lot of experience and knows how to accompany his leader for a long time in the mountains. Arnold Jeannesson and sometimes Jérémy Roy and others did very well but Steve knows his job. He is meticulous, experienced and will bring serenity and tranquility to Thibaut.”


Another important signing is Kevin Reza who comes from Europcar.


“Kevin followed his coach Sébastien Joly and wanted to have the opportunity to express himself in sprints that come after tough races with climbs,” Madiot said. “With us, he will be able to play his card but to join us he made some big financial sacrifices. He has a much lower salary than some people want to believe. Kevin mainly has a sporting goal.”


In short, Madiot has built a team that can support his three leaders.


“Thibaut will count on Steve Morabito, Arnold Jeannesson and Jérémy Roy in the crucial phases. Arnaud Démare has Mathieu Ladagnous and Yoann Offredo and in the sprints he will have Mickael Delage and Sébastien Chavanel. Arthur Vichot will be supported by Anthony Roux, Benoît Vaugrenard and Kevin Reza. The others, my warriors, have an equally important role: William Bonnet, David Boucher, Arnaud Courteille, Laurent Pichon, Anthony Geslin, Cédric Pineau, Murilo Fischer, Jussi Veikkanen and Francis Mourey. I must say that I also expect a lot of Alexander Géniez who has to get more consistent and Kenny Elissonde. We’ll see how they’ll do in the Giro.


Madiot has clear goals for 2015.


“I hope to win 25 races and we aims for a top 5 and a top 10 in a grand tour.”



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