After a 2013 season that FDJ rider has described as one where he needed to prove that he could still compete at the very top level, the 27-year-old Frenchman is back in the Arab emirate with his sights set on the Spring Classics, where he aims to be contender, and the Tour de France, where he hopes to make his debut.
So far, the Qatari race hasn’t favoured Offredo and his FDJ team. Hit by a series of punctures and crashes on stage 2, they lost two riders as Mathieu Ladagnous returned to France with a dislocated collarbone and David Boucher quit after a fall left him coughing up blood. Offredo went down, too, but hospital tests revealed no broken bones, allowing him to continue towards his planned rendezvous with the Classics.
“Last season I had to get back to the level I was at, to prove that I was capable of achieving that. But 2014 will be different – it’s a bit like a year of renewal for me,” Offredo told Velochrono.fr. “This season I want to pick up where I left off in 2011 and continue to progress.”
A very prominent seventh in Milan-Sanremo in 2011, Offredo appeared to have the talent, confidence and brazenness to threaten the best one-day performers until sidelined by suspension. Last year’s 19th place at Sanremo and 16th place in the Tour of Flanders indicated he may yet do so, especially as he believes he’s almost 10% stronger now.
“I’ve picked up an awful lot of power in a year. I’ve gained almost 10% in terms of maximal aerobic power, which is good for morale. It also means that I’m back to the level I was at in 2011 and have even progressed,” said Offredo.
The Frenchman already has half an eye on Sanremo, the race where he first came to wider prominence thanks to his attacking performances in 2010 and 2011. “I really love that race. It is for atypical riders and I consider myself an atypical rider. There aren’t a lot of races that suit my profile, that don’t finish with a sprint or on top of a climb,” said Offredo, although he admitted the addition of the Pompeiana climb doesn’t suit him.
“The final will be more complicated, that’s for sure, but there won’t be a bunch sprint. It is going to favour riders like Sagan and Cancellara. But it has to be said that this Classic doesn’t come down to just its finale. Milan-Sanremo is 300km long. The final has changed, but there are 280km before you get there.”
Offredo also has his sights on top 10 finish in Flanders and perhaps even doing better than Ladagnous’ fifth place last year. Although his teammate’s preparations for the Classics will be set back by his crash in Qatar, Offredo sees his partnership with Ladagnous and sprinter Arnaud Démare as a strong one.
“We can complement each other,” he said of Ladagnous, “although we’re different riders. He sits in and waits for an opportunity in the final, whereas I love to attack. I would say that I’m more of a romantic when it comes to racing. I like it when there’s some history to a race."
Further down the line, Offredo is also hoping for a Tour de France debut, especially given his experience on the cobbles, which will feature early on in the race. “I think I can give Thibaut Pinot and Arnaud Démare a big hand on that stage, but also on others. Thibaut is lacking to an extent when it comes to placing himself in the bunch and fighting for position, so riders like me can help him,” said Offredo.
“The team has got real ambition for the Tour de France, unlike previous years when we were there simply to show the jersey. We’re going there to win.”