Yoann Offredo is hoping a change of teams, from FDJ to Wanty-Groupe Gobert, can help the 30-year-old Frenchman fulfil his "potential" with an eye on the Flemish classics. Offredo steps down to the Pro-Continental level from 2017 with the Belgian team having ridden with FDJ since 2008.
Wanty-Groupe Gobert recently had its first team meeting where Offredo shared his thoughts on the move and outlined some of his season goals.
"I signed my first contract with the FDJ in August 2007. I rode ten years in the same team where I learned a lot. Unfortunately I settled into a routine," Offredo said. "According to me the essence of high-level sport is risk-taking. I am 29 years old [sic]. It is time for me to show my potential. Wanty-Groupe Gobert is a familial team where the collective and individual performances are more prominent.
"My experience makes me able. I am a man of the beginning of the season. I'm looking forward to these races, otherwise I will not have come here. It is not money that motivates me but the challenge."
Offredo has won his one race in his career so far, stage 4 of the 2009 Tour De Picardie, explaining that despite a lack of personal results he was a key rider in FDJ's recent success which gave him great satisfaction.
"Unlike a pro-continental team the World Tour teams are only concentrated on two riders," he said. "During the 2010-2011 season I almost finished all the time in the first ten of the big classics. Subsequently I totally devoted myself to my team while staying in the first fifteen in the Spring classics. The individual victories of a professional rider does not necessarily reflect his potential. I had many collective victories with Nacer Bouhanni, Arnaud Démare, Thibaut Pinot and it is as glorious for me as an individual achievement. When you have a rider in your team whose has higher qualities than you, you just put yourself at his service."
Several top-20 results at Milan-San Remo and Tour of Flanders hint at Offredo's potential in the spring classics but he sees riders such as world champion Peter Sagan and Olympic champion Greg Van Avermaet as the men to beat.
"In my opinion Peter Sagan and Greg Van Avermaet are riding in another league. Behind these two riders it is quite open. Fabian Cancellara retires," he added. "Wanty- Groupe Gobert is an homogeneous team. The riders are motivated by one-day races, it will be a challenge and we have high ambitions. I think the podium is possible in the first classic of the season, the Omloop Het Nieuwsblad in Belgium which promotes to the World Tour next year."
In his career, Offredo has only ridden the one grand tour, the 2010 Vuelta a Espana, and explained that while Wanty-Groupe Gobert is aiming to secure a wild card invitation to the Tour de France, he doesn't care for the limelight.
"It's a choice not to have ridden the Tour de France so far. The notoriety does not interest me. If I had wanted to be known, I would have participated in a reality show. I am motivated by sport and competition," he said. "The Tour de France is a controlled race from start to finish. It still remains an event in a career. For a team as Wanty-Groupe Gobert the media's resonance would be enormous. It has to be coherent in a sports project. Wanty-Groupe Gobert is a complete team. We have very good climbers and sprinters. It is possible to achieve something very coherent in the Grande Boucle, by being on attacking mode and above all by showing our great team spirit."
Offredo added that so far, he is enjoying his Belgian experience and looking forward to a classics campaign.
"The atmosphere and sensations are totally different. As a reference to the Madeleine of Proust, cycling is connected to smells, noises and especially to the French fries and beer. I particularly like drinking a glass of Duvel by the way," he said. "There is always a lot of people in Belgium watching or attending the race. I'm looking forward to starting this new adventure."
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