Tour Guide Flashback – FDJ 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 take a look at the commentary on the FDJ team from the 2011 Tour preview.

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Flashback: 2011 – FDJ Team Pages

Either a polka-dot jersey or some stage wins…

Back in 2004 the bright young hope of French cycling finished second in the youth classification of his third Tour de France. Sandy Casar has promised a great deal ever since. The steady progress he makes on the GC hints that he’s ageing well: he’s improved on his 16th place overall that year several times – 14th in 2008 and 12th in 2009… plus a couple of stage wins along the way. At 32, he’s reached what many believe to be the prime years for a pro cyclist. And his team only appears to be getting stronger, even if it’s no longer part of the WorldTour.

Once again, this is a French team that’s bound to respect its place as a wildcard recipient for the Tour. There are proven winners on the roster and also a few more bright young hopes. With Pierrick Fédrigo’s arrival, the last-minute recruitment of Canadian sprinter Dominique Rollin, the development of guys like Mickael Delage, Jérémy Roy and Yohann Offredo, and the lottery of what could be possible with Thibaut Pinot, there’s enough talent on offer at FDJ to make this Tour an interesting one. The challenge is deciding what the objective should be.

The changes in climbing classification rules aren’t ideal for Casar but it is arguably better for him than the defending title holder, Anthony Charteau (Europcar). The FDJ leader for the past few seasons is capable of holding wheels for most of the way up the major climbs but he also regularly illustrates that he is not afraid of attacking. This is how he’s earned his victories at the Tour – by taking a chance. He could do more of the same and roll the dice and hope he remains ahead of the bunch, or he could exercise some restraint, follow the GC guys and then go for the points atop the major summits.

A lot depends on the attitudes of others who are interested in the polka-dot prize. This looks like being a battle between Frenchmen in 2011 and Casar and his colleagues just seem to have a bit of an edge on guys like Jérôme Pineau or Charteau in the high mountains. Thibaut Pinot is very young but he didn’t let his age daunt him when he first raced for FDJ last year. The Tour might not be part of his agenda quite yet but should he be given the chance to ride, he will benefit from the education that Casar, Fédrigo, and Geslin could provide.

There is experience at FDJ, plenty of motivation, some men who have proven themselves at the Tour before… and reasons for the local fans to cheer this team louder than ever.

Foreigners won’t be so assured of a place in the nine-man selection as the Frenchies listed already but Marc Madiot is a fan of Wes Sulzberger who has been steadily working towards what he hopes will be a second successive crack at Le Tour. Of the others who could pick up a surprise, we have the Lanterne Rouge from a few years ago, the Belorussian sprinter Yauheni Hutarovich – who is either in the mix or totally lost in sprints – or Gianni Meersman, a Belgian who is yet to understand if he can cope with the pressure of the Tour.

by Rob Arnold

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Author: design@ride

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