The FDJ team held its official team presentation in Paris on Wednesday, with team manager Marc Madiot convinced that the French squad can win the Tour de France in the next five years. Last year Thibaut Pinot finished third in the Tour de France behind Vincenzo Nibali (Astana) and fellow Frenchman Jean-Christophe Peraud (Ag2r-La Mondiale).
"The Tour has been unreachable for years, for reasons you know as well as I do. But now we have the potential. This can be done in the next four to five years, if we continue to progress and if fate is in our favour,” French newspaper L'Equipe quoted Madiot as saying.
“2014 was a continuation of what was expected. Year after year, we're trying to build the foundations. We were lucky to find talented young racers and give them the time to assert themselves. As a result the team has grown.”
FDJ won 28 races in 2014 including the French national road race title with sprinter Arnaud Démare. However Nacer Bouhanni took 11 of those victories and has moved to rival French squad Cofidis for 2015. Madiot has signed Kévin Reza from Europcar and Swiss rider Steve Morabito from BMC.The team has new colours for 2015, swapping its all-blue kit for red,white and blue.
Stand out riders on its 2015 roster include pure climber Kenny Elissonde, Yohann Offredo, Jeremy Roy and of course Pinot. 25 of the 29 riders in the team are French and 17 turned professional with FDJ. The team is sponsored by the French national lottery.
Pinot will have a quiet start to his 2015, racing for the first time at the Grand Prix La Marseillaise on Sunday and next week's l'Etoile de Bessèges stage race in the south of France. He will then ride the Tour of Oman and Tirreno-Adriatico.
“I'm happy to pin a number on my jersey again even if I enjoy training. Winter went well, even if it went quick, But it's time to race on Sunday and that's feels good," Pinot said in an interview published on the FDJ website.
“Last year I finished second four times; when you really focused on the classification it's not as easy to win. But I want to enjoy raising my arms in victory. My programme has been decided: La Marseillaise, Etoile de Bessèges, Tour of Oman and Tirreno-Adriatico. Tirreno is my first big objective. Then I'll ride Critérium International in Corsica, the tour of the Basque Country, the Tour de Romandie and perhaps the Critérium du Dauphiné depending on the course.”
“I'll study the Huy finish of the Tour de France by riding Flèche Wallonne and the day after I'll study the cobbled stage. Then I'll head to the alps and Pyrenees as I usual do in May to study and training in the mountains.”
Madiot remains the charismatic leader at FDJ but the team has boosted its coaching and sports science set-up for 2015, with Frédéric Grappe and Julien Pinot joined by former rider Sébastien Joly and David Han. Each will coach a dozen riders in the team and be responsible for specific areas of coaching and support such as biomechanics, equipment and testing.