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2020 Team Preview: Groupama-FDJ

Thibaut Pinot (left) and David Gaudu (right) will be key to the team's success in 2020 (Image credit: Groupama-FDJ)

Who?

Marc Madiot's team Groupama-FDJ, whose partnership with French state lottery company FDJ is the longest-running sponsorship in the sport, stretching back to 1997. Thibaut Pinot once again heads up the roster and will head back to the Tour de France after his heartbreaking abandon in 2019. Other big names include Arnaud Démare and young talent David Gaudu, who also return for 2020.

Manager: Marc Madiot

Squad size: 28

Average age: 27.5

How did they fare in 2019?

Wins: 24

WorldTour ranking: 12

It was a decent year for the squad, but one that will always be remembered with a painful tinge of disappointment after Thibaut Pinot’s tearful exit from the Tour de France. The Frenchman had returned to home soil after seeking success in Italy in the previous couple of years, and had seemingly emerged as the strongest rider in the race after a stunning weekend in the Pyrenees.

Come the Alps, however, he suffered a freak thigh injury and abandoned in tears two days from Paris. He was inconsolable and hasn’t raced since. The way he performed until that point will no doubt have intensified the pain, but should also be a huge source of encouragement.

It was a pretty average campaign for the team’s other leader, Arnaud Démare. The sprinter won a stage at the Giro d’Italia, but only managed three other, lower-level, wins, and made no impact in the Classics.

Fellow fast finisher Marc Sarreau continued to improve, bringing in five important victories on home soil, while 23-year-old Valetin Madouas emerged as one of the top French talents with 13th overall in the Giro d’Italia – his first Grand Tour. Meanwhile, the team's other young hope David Gaudu took 13th at the Tour de France.

Over the border, Swiss rider Stefan Küng turned out to be one of the more successful new signings in the peloton, with five wins and bronze at the World Championships road race.

It must be pointed out there was a sour note to the year, as Georg Priedler was fired after he admitted his involvement in the blood doping ring unearthed by the Operation Aderlass investigation before his time with Groupama-FDJ.

Key riders 

Thibaut Pinot: The 29-year-old is the heart and soul of the team and leads the charge to land the Tour de France. It has never been plain sailing for the mercurial Frenchman, but his emotional nature has granted access to the high highs and the low lows, making him a captivating rider to watch. Something always seems to go wrong but on his day he’s electrifying.

Arnaud Démare: The sprinter has shared leadership and split the calendar with Pinot in recent years, and picked up Tour de France stages as Pinot focused on the Giro d’Italia. However, Pinot’s performance at last year’s Tour will see the team structured even more around him, likely leaving Démare twiddling his thumbs in July.

David Gaudu: Pinot is the present, but the former Tour de l’Avenir winner is the future. He may well be the very-near future. This year he was third at UAE Tour, sixth at Liège-Bastogne-Liège, fifth at Romandie, and 11th at Il Lombardia. At the Tour de France he caught the eye with his work for Pinot, most strikingly on the Col du Tourmalet, and went on to finish 13th overall at the age of 22.

David Gaudu and Thibaut Pinot (Groupama-FDJ)

David Gaudu and Thibaut Pinot at the Tour de France (Image credit: Getty Images Sport)

Strengths

In Pinot, the team have one of the most talented and popular riders in the world, and a genuine chance of taking the sport’s biggest prize in 2020: the Tour de France title. In David Gaudu they have someone who should keep them challenging for Grand Tours and hilly Classics for years to come.

All in all, with Pinot, Gaudu, Démare, Madouas, Sarreau and Molard, the team has a strong French core and a family-like team spirit nurtured by one of the WorldTour’s most charismatic managers in Madiot.

Weaknesses

The team have most bases covered pretty well but the cobbled Classics remain a weakness, despite Demare’s potential in northern Belgium and France. Stefan Küng and Ramon Sinkeldam are strong on that terrain too, though their cobbled squad is far from the strongest in the peloton.

Verdict

There are no big changes for Groupama-FDJ in 2020 – just a few riders brought in from the relatively new development team – but they’ll truly believe they can win the Tour de France this year.

2020 line-up

  • Bruno Armirail (Fra)
  • William Bonnet (Fra)
  • Alexys Brunel (Fra)
  • Mickaël Delage (Fra)
  • Antoine Duchesne (Can)
  • Arnaud Démare (Fra)
  • Kilian Frankiny (Sui)
  • David Gaudu (Fra)
  • Kevin Geniets (Lux)
  • Jacopo Guarnieri (Ita)
  • Simon Guglielmi (Fra)
  • Ignatas Konovalovas (Lit)
  • Stefan Küng (Sui)
  • Matthieu Ladagnous (Fra)
  • Olivier Le Gac (Fra)
  • Fabian Lienhard (Sui)
  • Tobias Ludvigsson (Swe)
  • Valentin Madouas (Fra)
  • Rudy Molard (Fra)
  • Thibaut Pinot (Fra)
  • Sébastien Reichenbach (Sui)
  • Anthony Roux (Fra)
  • Marc Sarreau (Fra)
  • Miles Scotson (Aus)
  • Romain Seigle (Fra)
  • Ramon Sinkeldam (Ned)
  • Bejamin Thomas (Fra)
  • Léo Vincent (Fra)