FDJ manager Marc Madiot has called on French riders to show their worth on the international stage in response to comments by UCI president Pat McQuaid, who had labelled them as “soft” and their teams as “conservative” in an interview with L’Équipe at the end of last year.
“That hurt me,” Madiot said at the FDJ presentation in Paris, according to Velochrono. “I told my riders, and I want to tell French riders as a whole: have some pride! French riders are of international level and not only at the Tour de France. They need to stop hanging their heads.”
Madiot also expressed his disappointment that FDJ had not secured a ProTeam licence for 2011 and criticised the UCI’s selection process.
“We want to know the rules of the game,” he told L’Équipe. “The UCI is staying quite vague on this matter. It’s annoying to start the year without knowing the terms for getting back into the World Tour.”
It is the first time that Madiot’s team has been outside of cycling’s top tier since the ProTour began in 2005 and FDJ are now reliant on wildcard invitations to the biggest events in the sport.
“We’re waiting on a lot of invitations, especially to the Tour de France and the Vuelta a España, which are the two Grand Tours in which we want to participate,” he said at the presentation. “However, we are assured of taking part in the entire calendar of Belgian classics and semi-classics, and we’re candidates to take part in Tirreno-Adriatico and Milan-San Remo.”
Ironically, while his team missed out on the ProTeam cut, FDJ’s roster has been bolstered significantly by an increased budget for 2011. Joining existing talent such as Sandy Casar and Yoann Offredo at the team are new arrivals like Pierrick Fédrigo and William Bonnet, who arrived from Bbox-Bouygues Telecom.
“2010 marked the end of a cycle,” Madiot explained. “It was a so-so year. This winter we were offensive on the transfer market, we’re welcoming eleven new riders, our budget (8.7 million euro) is on the increase: all of that should give us a boost.