Marc Madiot blog: Hospital visits and fears for the future
'If we're all driving to hospital, our sport is in big trouble' says Groupama-FDJ boss after crash-ridden first week at the Tour de France
Let's start on a good note: David Gaudu is going pretty well. After the first rest day he's in the top 10 overall. He has positioned himself among the Tour de France GC contenders and also as our team leader. I'm curious to see what he'll deliver in the next two weeks.
He suffered a bit at the end of stage 9 to Tignes but that was mainly because of the bad weather conditions. He doesn't doubt himself and I'm not worried for him at all. He has a lot more to show. However, he might be a bit too well-placed overall to get the green light to break away like he did at La Vuelta last year.
The Mont Ventoux is next for the climbers. It's a high mountain and we get a double dose! The organisation of the Tour de France has tried that before with the Alpe d'Huez and the Grand Colombier and it hasn't worked really well to fire up the race so it remains to be seen whether or not this can be a so called 'queen stage'.
I've got nothing to say about Tadej Pogačar. He's simply the best rider of the year. He is the defending champion who has easily won every single bike race he took part in since the beginning of the season, except for Itzulia Basque Country where his team tried to promote another rider of his age, Brandon McNulty.
I will certainly not join the sceptics. The UCI has a president whose job is to make sure that every single cyclist in the world has equal opportunities.
Politically, the main topic of the first week of the Tour has been rider safety. I said after stage 3 what I had to say. I certainly didn't enjoy my visit to my rider Ignatas Konovalovas at the hospital in Brest after stage 1.
He's still there 10 days later, with the hope of going back home anytime soon. He had a head trauma, three fractured lumbar vertebrae, and a haematoma to the pancreas that could have had even more severe consequences. I felt even worse when I saw a team car of Israel-Start Up-Nation parking next to the same hospital. If we all have to drive to the hospital after a bike race, our sport is in big trouble.
Questions are raised. My wife saw a trailer for the Tour de France on French TV and it was all about crashes! Maybe I'm too old but, originally, we don't encourage kids to take up cycling because the crashes are great to look at. I promote a series for under-17 cyclists in France and I don't want to tell them that their future is what we've seen in the first week of the Tour.
We'll need a discussion in which all the stakeholders will have to forget about their own interests. I agree with Adrie van der Poel when he says that courses, at least for sprint stages, have to be validated by an independent person. He suggested the name of Robbie McEwen for being that person. I fully support this idea.
We continue the Tour without our sprinter Arnaud Démare who didn't make the time cut in Tignes. He did everything he could.
There was some confusion about extending the time cut. Contact was made in the morning with the commissaires' panel in case of bad weather but there was no follow-up.
It's a pity for Arnaud because we knew he could win stages at the Tour de France. But that's racing. He'll make it up at La Vuelta.
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The irrepressible FDJ team manager Marc Madiot brings his unrestrained opinions and insights to Cyclingnews, giving our English-speaking readers a glimpse inside the culture of the French team, and French cycling.