Marc Madiot wants to take FDJ back to the top but needs to know the rules
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Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Marc Madiot wants to take FDJ back to the top but needs to know the rules

by Ben Atkins at 3:46 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Tour de France
 
French team manager aiming for ProTeam status in 2012 but says the UCI rules are not clear

marc madiotFDJ is currently one of the longest serving sponsors in the sport, with the French lottery operator beginning its support of its eponymous team in 1997. 2011 will therefore be the team’s 15th year, but for the first time in its history the French team will be outside the top level of the sport.

Due to what the International Cycling Union (UCI) said was a late submittal of some riders’ paperwork, the FDJ team was ranked as 21st team in sporting terms. This meant that it was ineligible for one of the 18 ProTeam spots, which are only open to those inside the top 20.

For team manager Marc Madiot therefore, one of the season’s biggest priorities is to regain its place at the top table; the problem for the two-time Paris-Roubaix winner though, is that the UCI has not yet made it clear how this can be achieved.

"We want to know the rules of the game,” Madiot told l’Equipe at the team’s presentation in Paris. “The UCI is still quite fuzzy on this. What is perhaps a bit annoying is to engage the year without knowing the details of a return to the World Tour.”

As one of the biggest French teams though, FDJ is all but guaranteed a invitation to the races that it would feel are ‘must dos’. The team has ridden all 14 of the Tours de France since its inception and that shows no sign of changing; Madiot is keen that an invitation to the race is not the only thing that the team concentrates on during the year.

"The Tour de France is not an end in itself,” he said. “I want the riders to hold their heads up and have pride. There have been no objectives targeted; we will win whenever the opportunity arises, "

fdjWith just one team – AG2R La Mondiale – in the WorldTour in 2011, no Tour winner since Bernard Hinault in 1985, and very few of its riders at the front of the big races, France is beginning to lose its grip on the sport that is plays host to so much of.

Much of this has been blamed on what many French riders have referred to as ‘cyclisme a deux vitesses’ (cycling at two speeds) where they claimed to undergo more tests – and were therefore less able to dope – than riders form other countries. Recently this has been refuted by many prominent figures recently though, who say that the French riders are too comfortable in French teams and have lost the determination to win.

“I was hurt by seeing or reading that French riders are not worth very much,” said Madiot. “We must stop bowing our heads; the watchword now is ‘willpower."

Madiot also took the opportunity to criticise soon-to-be-retiring Lance Armstrong, who is currently racing what is supposed to be his final race outside the US; the Frenchman is more impressed, he says, with the pre-cancer Armstrong.

“If there was something that I remembered him for it would be his stage win in 1995 [where he crossed the line alone, pointing to the sky in tribute to teammate Fabio Casartelli, who’d died after crashing on the descent of the Col de Portet d’Aspet a few days earlier],” he said, “but surely not his seven victories overall. In 1995, he had something about him, but his seven Tours seemed too mechanical.”

One of the features of the Armstrong Tour winning, and since, has been the use of radio communication between riders and their team managers. Madiot is one of the few team directors at the top of the sport who is prepared to stand up and declare his opposition to their use.

"We must leave the racing to the riders," he said.

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