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Philippe Gilbert (Française des Jeux), 26, wins the 102nd Paris-Tours

Française des Jeux

Established: 1997

2009 SUMMARY: It was another decent season for Madiot’s men, who bagged 18 victories. However, as in 2008, success at the Tour de France eluded them, although Sandy Casar added two more second places there to his growing list of near-misses. Some compensation came at the Vuelta, where Anthony Roux took a sensational stage win by holding off the bunch into Talavera. Sprinter Yauheni Hutarovich was in demand after his six wins but has opted to stay put.

LOOKING AHEAD: As you’d expect, there’s plenty of youthful promise on Marc Madiot’s roster, perhaps more so than there has ever been. While those younger riders find their feet, Madiot will be expecting more from some of his established team members – notably the underperforming Rémy Di Gregorio, who wasn’t selected for the Tour last year. Finally, Hutarovich will get more support as he challenges the sprint kings and, if all goes well, may just join them.

THE LINE-UP: Madiot was pretty miffed to see highly rated Jérôme Coppel leave for Saur-Sojasun – managed by Française des Jeux old boy Stéphane Heulot – after just a season. His grumpiness should be reduced with the arrival of three talented youngsters – Pierre Cazaux’s a good all-rounder, Thibault Pinot a potential climbing ace and Arthur Vichot may be a future Classics winner.

ONE TO WATCH: Is France on the verge of something big in cycling? Sure, we’ve heard it before over the last two decades, but Romain Sicard’s U23 Worlds win was just one of many notable results by upcoming Frenchmen. Less noted but just as notable was Thibaut Pinot’s (below) victory in the prestigious and very tough Tour of Val d’Aosta Mont Blanc last year. Gilberto Simoni, Wladimir Belli and Yaroslav Popovych number among
the past winners. Pinot is the first French winner since 1987.
 

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