Marc Madiot said it’s been a long time since he felt the passion for cycling as a television spectator as much as he did watching stage seven of the Giro d’Italia on Saturday. He told Cyclingnews he'd watched the stage as a neutral observer, with his Française des Jeux team not taking part in the corsa rosa this year.
“Shall I apply for a racing licence again?” said the double winner of Paris-Roubaix (1984 and 1991). At the age of 51, a comeback is out of question but his comments indicate that he would have loved to experience the Strade bianche during his days racing the Giro d’Italia. He was one of the contenders in the terrible and legendary stage over the Gavia in 1988.
“These gravelled roads are perfect for pure cycling,” Madiot said. “This is what makes bike riders heroes. Race organisers must not be afraid of using this kind of courses.”
In 2008, Madiot, who serves as the president of the French professional cycling league, suggested to Tour de France director Christian Prudhomme to use the gravelled roads of the Tro Bro Leon when the Grande Boucle started from Brest. But race organiser Amaury Sports Organisation didn’t dare to send the riders on the ribins ('short-cuts on bad roads' in the Breton language).
Two years later, Prudhomme is more eager to take risks and face inevitable criticisms. This year, the Tour de France will include the spectacle of French cobbles and will mean the best cyclist over three weeks isn’t only a combination of the best climber and the best time triallist. Stage three in the Tour de France will feature some of the pavé sections used in Paris-Roubaix, including the Haveluy sector eight kilometres before the end in Arenberg (the peloton will not have to cross the forest).
“Cycling will be even more pure when communication via ear pieces will be banned,” Madiot added. “The battle on the Strade bianche was great but I’ve still noticed some hesitation by the riders when they heard from their team car that [Vincenzo] Nibali and [Ivan] Basso were at the back. There was no reason to wait. The race had to go on. I’m glad they did it full gas. I’m sure many fans have admired the action of the champions at the front of the race.”