ProTour team La Francaise des Jeux has had a promising start in the new season by taking four victories already. Belarusian sprinter Yauheni Hutarovich won two stages of the Tour Méditerranéen, in which teammate Jussi Veikkanen also took a stage and wore the race leader's jersey for several days.
Just yesterday, the French squad obtained its fourth victory in the Volta ao Algarve, as Benoît Vaugrenard took off in the final kilometre of stage one to snatch the win from the chasing field. Now, Vaugrenard and his teammates will be defending the overall lead in the Portuguese event.
Having already been very successful in 2009 when the team finished ninth on the UCI ProTour team ranking and was best French squad, La Francaise des Jeux seems on track to show off similarly good performances this season, if not better.
"We are very happy for our riders," said sports director Yvan Madiot to Cyclingnews, speaking from the Tour du Haut Var. "This is great for the team, but we are especially happy for our riders because they worked very hard during the winter. This is a great reward for them, and of course everybody shares their joy."
The thorough training during an especially harsh European winter has paid off for the team, whose three training camps all took place in France - where other squads headed to the South of Spain. "Our three team meets were held in December and in January. They were not very long - only five days each - but filled with intensive workouts under the guidance of our trainer, Frédéric Grappe. After that, the riders all got specific training plans to follow at home," explained Madiot.
Moreover, for the last two camps, the roster was divided in two groups: one destined to perform at the Classics and another one designed for stage races. "Each group had their own training camps separately," added Madiot.
The team's objective clearly was to start off 2010 where they had left last year. "We are like to win early at Francaise des Jeux," admitted Madiot. "We want to physically ready early in the season. It's great for the morale of the team!"