Tour Guide Flashback – Cofidis Team Pages (2011)

RIDE Media has produced the official Tour de France Guide (Australian edition) since 2003. The 2012 edition will be on sale mid-June. During the production period, we will be looking back at certain features from over the years.

In this flashback we look at the commentary on the Cofidis team from the 2011 Tour preview.

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Flashback: 2011 – Cofidis Team Pages

A wildcard which could either wither or prosper…

To rely exclusively on David Moncoutie for results would be a mistake for a team which has depth that extends well beyond the triple winner of the Vuelta’s mountains classification. The climber is an asset, be sure of that… but he’s just not reliable. On a good day, he can rise above the peloton but he has to do so from a long way back. It’s been said before and is repeated again: he rides at the rear of the bunch until the gradient gets steep and then he can show his ability. He says he likes to pass riders, seeing them ahead of him inspires him to go fast.

That’s not clever tactics though: it’s wasting good energy! And that’s a shame for a rider of such class. He has won a lot since turning pro in 1997 for Cofidis in the year of the team’s debut in the peloton. But he could have done a lot more.

This is a team that’s had as many incarnations as it has had Tour starts. At the start it was a mega-squad with the likes of Lance Armstrong, Tony Rominger, Maurizio Fondriest, Bobby Julich and David Millar on the roster. But Lance never raced in the colours of the French squad. (He was busy fighting cancer.) Then it became the outfit that put riders on the podium of a most intriguing Tour, in 1998 when Julich was third overall and Christophe Rinero won the polka-dot jersey.

Since then, it’s been a mish-mash of success and failure at the Tour: a TT here (for Millar to open the 2000 race), a stage win there (for Stuart O’Grady in Chartres in 2004), chasing a whiff of opportunity (by former French recruits like Auge, or Chavanel, or Moinard in 2005)… and every once in a while the old Moncoots would move forward again and surprise a few before retreating to his usual position.

This year, as Bernard Hinault points out, they have options with Rein Taaramäe and Samuel Dumoulin. The Estonian has a lot of potential but he didn’t achieve much in his Tour debut last year: he suffered on the early climbs and eventually quit without much fanfare. The small French sprinter, however, is a class act. He won his Tour stage in Nantes in 2008 by speeding ahead of three escape companions and he’s capable of a whole lot more – his aggressive ways, turn of speed, and low profile have contributed to his growing list of victories.

Look down the list and you see an eclectic mix. There is no true stand out performer but there’s enough for this not to be the laughing stock of the peloton. Cofidis recognises its plight: it’s lucky to be invited to the Tour. As the team has been given the chance to race, its riders are sure to take a chance and race! Of the 20 stages last year, Cofidis had at least one representative in the OEE (Obligatory Early Escape) 11 times – more than any other team in the 2010 Tour. Taaramäe, Auge (who is now a directeur sportif at Cofidis), El Fares, Dumoulin, Sebastien Minard, Christophe Kern, Amaël Moinard, Remy Pauriol – eight of the nine-man line-up were prepared to try.

They may not succeed all the time but that doesn’t mean Cofidis is at the Tour simply to make up numbers. They ignite the action and prompt others to respond. This is a team that’s good for the race… and the race is good to it.

by Rob Arnold

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Author: design@ride

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