Ever since the inception of his FDJ team, manager Marc Madiot has had an eye for spotting and signing Australian riders. Since he set up FDJ on the eve of the 1997 season, he has signed five riders from Down Under, with Bradley McGee, Baden Cooke and Matt Wilson the most memorable. Miles Scotson is the latest off the conveyor belt to join what is now Groupama-FDJ, and after two years at BMC Racing, the 25-year-old is looking to learn and develop under Madiot's tutelage.
"It's been a good week with the guys, and I've been getting a feel for the team. It's a nice and relaxed atmosphere. I didn't know French when coming here, but now I'm being forced to learn," he told Cyclingnews with a smile at the Tour Down Under, where he is making his debut for the team.
"It's been OK here because most of the riders are English-speaking. During the season, though, it's going to be so important that I learn. I've been doing a bit of studying, but I think that I'll get a tutor when I get back to Europe and pick it up quickly. We're only speaking French on the radios when it comes to racing."
Madiot picked up three BMC Racing riders in the transfer market for this season. Stefan Kung agreed terms early on before Scotson and Swiss climber Kilian Frankiny followed suit. Both Kung and Scotson will add undoubted firepower to the French squad's team time trial core, while Scotson also has ambitions of making his Grand Tour debut at the Vuelta a España this season.
"There are three new riders on the team, and we all came from BMC and are around the same age. I didn't know much about the team before we started talking, but I heard that they had signed Kung. He's super strong in the time trial and they were looking for one more. I'm a similar sort of rider, but not quite as strong, unfortunately, but now we have a strong team time trial squad and that's going to be a bit of a focus. They wanted a rider with my sort of abilities," said Scotson.
McGee, currently the selector of the Australian men's national road team, rode in Madiot's FDJ colours for 10 of his 11 seasons in the professional ranks. In that time, he won two stages of the Tour de France and a stage each in the Vuelta and the Giro d'Italia. He also wore the leader's jerseys in all three Grand Tours.
Scotson, a former national road champion sought McGee's advice before joining the French team and added that the former professional would be a sounding board in the future.
"I spoke to Brad a bit. He was there for a lot of his career and he still keeps in touch with Madiot. If I have any questions, then I think that Brad will be my go-to guy. Brad and I chatted and he told me that the French teams are really changing. They're very forward-looking, and look a lot more at sports science and those 'one percenters'. That's what you have to do in the sport these days."
Scotson's programme has yet to be announced, but as well as offering Madiot with a bargain in terms of watt-per-euro on the transfer market, the Frenchman has signed a talented rider with a willingness to learn and develop. Those at BMC Racing will tell you that there's more in Scotson's tank than we've already seen.
"I don't know too much yet, but I'm going to the UAE Tour and then after that I'll look to do the Classics," said Scotson. "A Grand Tour is definitely in the plan as it's something that I didn't get to do at BMC. I turned 25 yesterday, and now I have to try my hand at that kind of development. I believe that it will most likely be the Vuelta."