Jérémy Roy: “Mud and sand for the first FDJ-BigMat training camp”
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Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Jérémy Roy: “Mud and sand for the first FDJ-BigMat training camp”

by Ben Atkins at 2:48 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling
French team works with a lower budget than some; breakaway specialist makes plans for 2012 spring

jeremy royAbout to start its sixteenth season, FDJ-BigMat is to rejoin the International Cycling Union (UCI) WorldTour in 2012. Despite its longevity though, and the securing of BigMat as a new co-sponsor, the French team still does things in a decidedly French way; this means a lower budget – and less winter sunshine – than many others for its first training camp ahead of next year.

"There are teams that have flown to the south of Spain, those who have returned to cycling in Tuscany, those who have sent their riders to do parachute jumps in Israel,” said Jérémy Roy, one of the team’s senior riders, who has worn the iconic four-leaf clover jersey since 2003, to l’Equipe.“ And us at FDJ, we got the group together for our traditional camp in December: Moussy-le-Vieux [in the Seine-et-Marne department – ed] for the administrative stuff, then Pen Bron [in the Loire-Atlantique department on the west coast – ed] for the sporting.

“A little mud in Seine-et-Marne and the cool sand in Loire-Atlantique,” he explained. “The first days had packed schedules, posing for pictures, riding with supporters and especially meeting the new team: the neo-pros [Kenny Elissonde and Arnaud Démare – ed] who had already had a taste of the camps last season; the returning [Jussi] Veikkanen, after his experience abroad; the rider that I knew from racing, but rarely because we didn’t have the same programme [David Boucher – ed]; and the shy Norwegian who had learned French at Credit Agricole [Gabriel Rasch – ed].

“There was no real hazing,” he joked. “A few buckets of water thrown into the rooms one stormy night and an evening where new guys put on a small show, with songs and stories.

“Nothing humiliating,” he added, “just a big joke.”

As well as meeting the new members of the team, the riders have also been trying to do some training, but in the northern half of France in December – particularly it’s coastal regions – it is not so easy as other parts of Europe.

“Last week, we tried to get back before the arrival of hurricane Joachim with rides of four to five hours but also done some jogging by the sea,” explained Roy. “It all still finished up the same: refrigerated after three hours at four degrees.”

FDJ has a history of mixing things up with its riding in the winter time, with off road skills often developed to help with handling on the road. The team also includes two if France’s top cyclocross riders, and Roy has been getting together with them.

“For a change, I had some cyclocross rides in the sand with Steve Chainel and Francis Mourey,” he said. “The rest didn’t want to. In the evening, we had time to chat over a drink with teammates. We had other interesting discussions with Denis Troch, the mental coach, and especially with the team managers to agree my schedule for 2012.”

Much of Roy’s spring will resemble that of 2011, but since FDJ-BigMat is rejoining the WorldTour, there will be the opportunity to start the year with a trip to Australia, and also take in more racing in Spain.

“A nice series of stage races right through the spring,” he explained. “The Down Under to start, then Haut-Var, Paris-Nice, Catalunya, the Pais Vasco and Romandie with a few French Cup races...

“I’ll have a free hand to my specialty: the breakaway,” he added. “Otherwise, I'll be there to support the sprinters and the team leaders.”

As something of a rouleur, Roy has to rely on breakaways for his results, making victories hard to come by. For this reason he will be working on his climbing over the winter, but this is not so easy for a rider from the Loire valley in north central France.

“The problem is that I do not have a speciality, a terrain where I really stand out,” he explained. “This year I'll try to work more in the medium mountains, I will do camps in the Jura and the Massif Central before Paris-Nice and Tour de Romandie before to get the right pedal rhythm.

“Also learn to do a good sprint after a big effort,” he continued. “Cyclocross and mountain biking can help. In the region of Tours, it's hard to find hills but with a headwind, a flat road can be just like a good climb.”

Before the season starts though, he will head to the south of France to get some warmer weather in before he heads off to the Tour Down Under.

“Sometimes I struggle to find the sun too,” he said. “That's why I asked to go to Australia again. In early January, I’ll have a training camp on the Côte d’Azur. I would even go there with my wife and daughter. In the absence of the tropics or Spain, it will be just like a holiday.

“A great step in the south on the road to the antipodes.”


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