FDJ.fr team manager Marc Madiot has said that he won’t chose between his two best sprinters at this weekend’s French National Championships. The race will give Nacer Bouhanni and Arnaud Démare a chance to square up against each other.
Despite Démare earning a Tour de France spot over Bouhanni for this year’s Tour de France squad, Madiot says that he’s not going to go for an all or nothing approach at the nationals.
"Saturday night at the briefing, we will not make a choice between Bouhanni and Démare. Whether it should be between these two riders will be decided on the road. Considering this course not so easy, it would be a mistake to focus only on a sprint,” Madiot told L’Équipe.
With the Tour de France around the corner, the French National championships hold a special importance – a chance to wear the tricolore at the biggest race of the year. Two year’s ago, Bouhanni and Demaré went head to head at the National Championships. On that occasion, Bouhanni came out the victor.
FDJ.fr also have defending champion Arthur Vichot in their midst, who will also line-up in Leeds on July 5. Madiot says that he will be just as happy to see any one of his young riders win.
"It is not tense. Bouhanni wants to win, Démare wants to win. Vichot wants to win,” he said. “If Bouhanni wins, I'd be the first to be happy. Ditto if Démare or Vichot win. If Bouhanni is champion, we will not see the jersey in the Tour, and maybe not next year the team. This is not the most important. For me, what counts is the moment that counts, the emotion, the explosion of joy.”
In recent weeks, it has looked increasingly likely that Bouhanni will leave the FDJ team. If he chooses not to extend with his current team, he is expected to sign with Cofidis or an international team. Although riders cannot officially sign contracts until August 1, L’Équipe speculate that Bouhanni will announce the name of his team next week. However, the sprinter hasn’t approached Madiot to say that he’s off to pastures new.
“At no point has Nacer said to me, “I am leaving,” explained the FDJ team boss. “Right now, we do not have the financial resources to meet his demands, or what has been offered. The economic reality is that.
"If we keep Nacer, the most difficult point to manage remains the Tour de France, as he and Arnaud are French and young. For the rest, it is not difficult to arrange. Next year at the Worlds will be favourable to sprinters. Why one does one not do the Tour, and the other would go to the Vuelta to prepare for the Worlds?"