Groupama-FDJ will be aiming for the breaks and stage victories at this year’s Giro d’Italia, given Thibaut Pinot’s absence, but will still have an eye on the overall classification with Frenchman Rudy Molard stepping up to Grand Tour leadership for the first time.
The ongoing pain caused by a back injury sustained in a crash at the 2020 Tour de France lead Pinot to reluctantly set aside his plans to race for the maglia rosa this year, a decision announced after he struggled through the Tour of the Alps and, finished 60th.
“Obviously, the mission of our riders has changed; they used to work for a leader, now they are asked to play their cards, they have to grab this opportunity,” said Groupama-FDJ sports director Philippe Mauduit.
“Rudy, because of his experience and the fact that he has already worn the leader's jersey in the Vuelta, will have a protected status. He will focus on the stages that suit him but I don't want him to leave the general classification behind, I know he has the capacity to fight every day.”
The 31 year old, who wore the red jersey of the Vuelta a España leader for four days in 2018 and finished just off the podium at the Tour du Var in February, has ridden the Giro d’Italia once before, in 2017. He is an experienced Grand Tour rider having taken on the Tour de France six times and the Vuelta a España three times, though not with the GC in mind.
“I will keep an eye on the general classification. It's a big challenge for me, it's the first time I have the opportunity to test myself on the classification of a Grand Tour,” said Molard.
“I'm not putting any unnecessary pressure on myself, we'll examine the situation after the first week.
“We will all have a lot of freedom in this Giro and we have to take advantage of it. We want to do well, with a thought for Thibaut, we know that it was a heartbreak for him to give up the race."
Molard will be joined by Sebastien Reichenbach – another experienced rider among the young team – who capitalised on a break to take third on stage 16 of the Tour de France in 2020 and came 22nd and 15th on the overall when he last raced the Giro d’Italia in 2018 and 2017.
Fresh from the Tour de Romandie on his home roads, Reichenbach is planning to use his building form to focus on stage successes, particularly in the second part of the race, which starts with a nine-kilometre time trial in Turin on May 8.
The team also includes Antoine Duchesne, Romain Seigle, Attila Valter, Matteo Badilatti, Simon Guglielmi and 22-year-old Dutch rider Lars van den Berg, who is taking on his first Grand Tour.
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