Yoann Offredo (FDJ) has said that French riders are beginning to lose their inhibitions and become more competitive on the international stage. The Frenchman is aiming to have a strong classics campaign in spite of FDJ’s failure to obtain a ProTeam licence for 2011.
“I think that there’s a still a complex vis-à-vis foreign riders, who we often just watch ride,” Offredo told Sport24.com. “That said, the Tour de France is proof that French riders need not be ashamed, they are capable of winning big races.
“We’re missing a little panache in the classics, which was surely due to the years of cheating, but that’s in the course of changing. Some countries, like Italy and Spain, are really waking up to it. I think that’s very encouraging for the years to come.”
Offredo had an impressive 2010 season. He was an animator at Milan-San Remo, as well as finishing third at the GP Plouay and 7th at Paris-Tours. He was also a strong performer at the world championships in Geelong. Now entering his fourth year as a professional, the 24-year-old’s ambitions are high, at home and abroad.
“I’m not afraid of any rider,” he said. “We have a cycling that is becoming more and more international and much more homogenous because there is less doping everywhere.”
FDJ were disappointed to miss out on a ProTeam licence for the 2011 season, but rather than dwelling on the snub, Offredo views his team’s Pro Continental status simply as an additional challenge to be overcome.
“You draw benefits from any negative experience,” he said. “I think that it’s a good thing for the team to have a challenge and not to be guaranteed a place in all the races.”
Unusually for a French rider, Offredo readily admits that he prefers the classics to the Tour de France, and he is enthusiastic about the prospect of riding in Belgium in April.
“We’re sure of doing the races in Belgium, the races which inspire me,” he said. “Sometimes members of the public tell me that cycling isn’t very interesting, that they fall asleep during stages of the Tour de France. The fact is that sometimes, it misses a bit of suspense. In the classics, it’s completely the opposite. They are races where, when you take the start, even if you’re at the peak of your form, anything can happen.”
However, Offredo acknowledged that in spite of his progress to date, he will have to bide his time before landing a major classic.
“It’s maybe a little too ambitious to aspire to victory in races like Paris-Roubaix,” he said. “They are races where you have go and then come back again and again.”