By Jean-François Quénet
Early this week, Française des Jeux directeur sportif Marc Madiot was made a knight of the French Legion of Honor (Chevalier de la Légion d'Honneur, in the local language). The medal was presented to the double winner of Paris-Roubaix (1985, 1991) by French president Nicolas Sarkozy at the Elysées palace in Paris.
"This is something I never expected but it really touched my heart because of the presence of my parents and some close friends who mean a lot to me," Madiot explained. He now joins Jacques Anquetil and Bernard Hinault among the road cyclists who have received the award.
Sarkozy's personal passion for cycling has probably played a major role in the promotion of one France's prominent cycling personalities. He looked like an enchanted fan when he was given in return a jersey signed by all of the riders from the Française des Jeux team. He publicly addressed a clear message to the president of the French national lottery Christophe Blanchard-Dignac, "You have to keep sponsoring this cycling team!"
Since Française des Jeux is a company mainly owned by the French government, the news of the extension of the sponsorship of the team with the four-leaf clover should soon follow the one of Bouygues Telecom, which has decided to stay in cycling for two more years after the 2008 season.
For a thumbnail gallery of these images, click here
Images by Francaise Des Jeux
- French president Nicolas Sarkozy is all smiles after receiving a signed jersey from the FdJ team.
Images by AFP Photo
- Marc Madiot was knighted by French president Nicolas Sarkozy
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