For the first time in his career as manager of FDJ, Marc Madiot enjoyed the sensation and emotions of winning a team time trial. The French team got the better of Astana on the 5.5km opening stage of the La Méditerranéenne by half a second. Madiot explained to French sports daily L'Équipe the team were riding new Aerostorm time trial bikes, helping them take the take the narrrow win.
"We had these new bikes developed by Lapierre which we had used in the last stage of the Etoile de Bessèges, and we can confirm they are performing," Madiot told L'Équipe. "We had also decided to do a real test and we did not miss out. It was a bit special because in the first part of the course we could not go full gas because of the many turns and speed bumps. It was relatively technical. But the lesson had been learned. We had to do this time trial a bloc and the riders did that."
Matthieu Ladagnous crossed the line first for FDJ and will wear the leader's jersey for stage, that will take the riders from Banyuls-sur-Mer to Port-Vendres. The 31-year-old has been with FDJ since turning professional in 2006, with his wins including the 4 Jours de Dunkerque in 2007 and La Tropicale Amissa Bongo in 2009.
Ladagnous' first pro win was in 2006 on stage 5 of the Tour Méditerranéen, which has since become La Méditerranéenne, and had been close to a second victory in recent years as he explained.
"This is the first victory of the team this year. I have twice finished second in team time trials at the Tour Méditerranéen, including the year when I was neo-pro. It's different to be in the winning team. Everyone is happy. The coaches play a big role with the material, recons etc," Ladagnous told DirectVelo.
"A sprint is expected for the second stage but it is not a guarantee. The final is tortuous and hilly," he added the stages to come. "We will do everything to have a sprint for Arnaud (Démare). The third stage is difficult. Alex (Geniez) climbs well. The last step was to be flat, but now there will be a climb every 5km. We won the first stage and it was the objective. We will try to win others and get a good place overall with Alexandre Geniez. I'm able to survive one or two stages but the last may be too difficult for me."
Madiot added he hopes the team can hold on to the leader's yellow jersey for the next three stages and believes he has the right riders to do so.
"We are the leaders and I have had the opportunity to win a team time trial for the first time since my debut as a leader twenty years ago. We'll see in the coming days, but we still have options with Nono [Arnaud Démare] and Alexandre Geniez," Madiot explained.
The victory confirms the team's progression against the clock in 2016 following on from Thibaut Pinot's second placed ride in the final day Etoile de Besseges test against the clock.