Yoann Offredo has said that he is part of a new generation of French riders who are breaking with tradition and viewing cycling in more international terms. The FDJ rider also insisted that his team must adapt to the challenge of competing as a ProContinental outfit in 2011.
“I think there are a lot of new French riders who never knew a certain era in cycling and who are rightly integrating themselves into international cycling,” Offredo told Cyclingnews.
“But it’s true that sometimes it’s quite difficult. For French riders the focus is often the Tour de France, which is a little bit of a cultural thing. Sometimes there is a gap between traditional cycling in France, with certain things that should and shouldn’t be done, and the modern cycling of teams like Sky and Garmin-Cervélo.
“I think that riders like me from the new generation are growing aware of this. There is a cultural element to cycling, but you also need to take things from outside. Me, I’ve learned a lot from watching how other teams work, like Garmin and Sky. And I think that’s how you progress.”
Offredo’s FDJ squad was disappointed to miss out on a ProTeam licence for the 2011 season and was left perplexed by the criteria that the UCI used in its selection process. The chagrin of Marc Madiot’s men was heightened further by the inclusion of the Vacansoleil squad of Riccardo Riccò and Ezequiel Mosquera in the UCI’s elite bracket of teams.
“Vacansoleil are in the ProTour and there were able to use Riccò and Mosquera’s points to get in there,” Offredo said. “I think it’s a little unfair but it’s like that.”
However, Offredo does not believe that all of Vacansoleil’s riders should be tarred with the same brush as Riccò, who was last week hospitalised with kidney problems rumoured to have been caused by blood doping. Instead, Offredo maintains that managers should be more circumspect in their signings.
“It’s annoying that there are cheats who have succeeded in finding teams but I think Riccò is a case apart and you can’t put the whole Vacansoleil team in the same basket,” Offredo said. “There are some very good riders on that team. I’d reproach the managers who sign riders like that to big salaries.
Nonetheless, Offredo is adamant that FDJ must simply get on with the task in hand and he explained why he thinks that the team’s uncertain 2011 race programme may bring some unexpected benefits.
“I think in all bad situations there are also some good things, and the fact that we aren’t in the ProTour might maybe re-motivate some riders,” Offredo told Cyclingnews. “Sometimes riders can just get into a routine from doing the same races, so I’d say it’s an important challenge.”
Progressing at the Classics
Offredo enjoyed a solid 2010 campaign and showed considerable promise in one-day races. The former CC Nogent sur Oise rider was prominent in the finale of Milan-San Remo and was one of France’s strongest performers at the world championships, before finishing 7th at Paris-Tours.
In 2011, the 24-year-old is looking to progress still further and will be aiming to be competitive at Milan-San Remo and Paris-Roubaix. He is convinced that FDJ’s transfer campaign will see it become a force this spring.
“As a team we’re stronger in the Classics as a collective,” he said. “We’ve signed riders like Dominique Rollin and William Bonnet, and I think that’s the important thing, to strengthen the collective.”
Offredo’s Classics preparation was almost dealt a critical blow on the eve of the Tour of Qatar, when he crashed while training. However, the Frenchman made a full recovery and enjoyed a solid week in the Gulf state.
“I think it’s the ideal preparation for the Classics, both from my physical point of view and because of the wind conditions,” he explained. “I think it’s the essential route to the Classics and the true preparation race for them.
“From a personal point of view, participating in races like the Tour of Qatar is good for me and I hope to express myself with the best of them at the Classics.”
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Barry Ryan is European Editor at Cyclingnews. He has covered professional cycling since 2010, reporting from the Tour de France, Giro d’Italia and events from Argentina to Japan. His writing has appeared in The Independent, Procycling and Cycling Plus. He is the author of The Ascent: Sean Kelly, Stephen Roche and the Rise of Irish Cycling’s Golden Generation (opens in new tab), published by Gill Books.