FDJ-BigMat is competing at the Giro d'Italia under the guidance of Martial Gayant, who has been a directeur sportif with team manager Marc Madiot for 12 years, and Yvon Sanquer, who was last active in the world of professional cycling as a team manager for Astana in 2010. Sanquer parted ways with the Kazakh team at the same time Alberto Contador left for Saxo Bank.
"I've always remained in touch with Madiot," Sanquer told Cyclingnews in Verona. "Returning to the WorldTour, FDJ-BigMat was in need of some extra staff, so Marc asked me to join for the Ardennes Classics and the Giro d'Italia. Marc and I share the same passion for cycling, and we have common ideas. We have also been strongly involved in defending and promoting French cycling in the past two decades."
Madiot has been running the FDJ-BigMat team, which has been backed by the national lottery since 1997, while Sanquer has had different roles since he used to coach amateur cyclists at US Créteil: he created the promotional [the equivalent of continental] team Mutuelle de Seine-et-Marne, he co-directed the post-1998 Festina team with Juan Fernandez, he ran the French professional league and managed Astana after the departure of Johan Bruyneel and Lance Armstrong following the 2009 Tour de France.
"It's a great pleasure to work with FDJ-BigMat," Sanquer said. "This team has great potential with different talented young riders. We've already seen it here at the Giro d'Italia. Arnaud Démare has made the top 10 in all the sprints in his debut at the age of 20. Geoffrey Soupe's third place in stage 2 proved that we are collectively strong. FDJ-BigMat has cards to play in different parts of the game with those who aren't currently at the Giro, like Thibaut Pinot and Arthur Vichot. It's an interesting challenge to help them develop step by step and become established riders at WorldTour level."
Sanquer's experience with non-French riders at Festina and Astana is supposed to boost Madiot's very French team. "Some riders already questioned me about Contador," Sanquer said. "They want to know how much attention he pays to his bikes and how he trains. It's good to hear that young riders are curious and want to improve. I can tell them that Alberto is absolutely exemplary in his way of preparing for the races. I keep in touch with him."
Sanquer's collaboration with Astana ended after only one year. Since the issue of Contador's doping ban for clenbuterol has been on his mind. "I had paid a lot of attention to the doping issue at Astana," he said. "Alberto rode the 2010 Tour de France clean. From where we started in October 2009 until the win in July, a lot of good work was done. Everyone knows me as an anti-doping campaigner. I don't want to discuss too much about the end of my relationship with Astana, but there were some different opinions."