A fourth place finish in the Volta ao Algarve behind Michal Kwiatkowski, Alberto Contador and Rui Costa signalled Alexandre Geniez's continuing rise. Winner of the Vuelta a España stage to Peyragudes last September, the 25-year-old Frenchman impressed throughout the five-day race in Portugal.
However, he still left FDJ's management believing that he could have pushed the top three harder if he had shown more belief in his ability. "It's a pity because he's got enormous potential," FDJ directeur sportif Franck Pineau has told L'Équipe. "When the road goes up he's unbelievable. But he has to realise the full extent of his ability."
Geniez recognises that having a mental block when it comes to comparing his own talent with that of the big names around him in the mountains. "I was really motivated for the whole week, I had super form and super legs. I was really happy to be up alongside riders like Contador and Rui Costa. It's good for my morale, because I need confidence," Geniez confessed to L'Équipe, adding that his Vuelta win has "unblocked my head".
Pineau, though, feels Geniez still has much more to give. "He was more surprised than we were that he was up at the top of the classification. Personally, I find it a bit frustrating. He needs to stop following the action. He still lacks a bit of confidence. I kept on saying to him: ‘Ride your own race, look ahead and don't give a monkey's about what the others are doing behind you.'"
Pineau continued: "If he only knew how strong he is when the road starts to climb then he would become a really strong performer in the mountains."
The FDJ DS said his biggest frustration was the fourth stage summit finish on the Malhao. Speaking to Geniez after Contador had won the stage, he asked his rider if he had had the means to follow the Spaniard. "He replied to me as if it was the most normal thing in the world: ‘Yes, I could have.' It's a real shame, even a waste. He didn't do so because he was afraid of getting into difficulty. But it is only by trying that he would have known what would have happened."
Pineau affirms that Geniez has taken a big step forward since joining FDJ from Argos-Shimano at the start of last season. "He's a born climber, but also gifted in time trials. He is just lacking a touch of devilishness that would enable him to become a great rider."