After being caught with the finishing line of the U23 European championship in sight, Frenchman David Gaudu signed his neo-pro contract for the next two seasons with WorldTour team FDJ. Team manager and sport's director Marc and Yvon Madiot both made their way to Plumelec to finalise the deal with the 19-year-old Peace Race and Tour de l'Avenir winner.
"I first heard of David when he won an Elite race aged only 16," Marc Madiot recalled.
"My brother Yvon followed him since the junior ranks. He joined our foundation that helps young cyclists to combine sport and studies. I personally met him at our training camp last December. In twenty years of working in this capacity, he's one of a handful of riders I could tell at first sight he's got something special. I saw him race here in Plumelec with the French national team in May. In the evening, I called Yvon and said we should sign him on the spot [he finished ninth in the UCI 1.1 event won by AG2R-La Mondiale's Samuel Dumoulin]. He hurt the legs of riders who were going very well and told me they'd been put in pain by this youngster.
"It was a natural move for me to join FDJ after being part of their development program," said the diminutive climber (1.73m, 54kg) from Landivisiau in Brittany, who was racing on home soil in Plumelec.
"But I don't take turning pro as an achievement. It's only the beginning.
"Not many 20-year-old riders have won both the Peace Race and the Tour de l'Avenir," Madiot added, referring to Nairo Quintana. Gaudu has not even turned 20 yet.
"We expect him to perform in the climbs and the high mountains from his first year on," Madiot added after losing Kenny Elissonde to Team Sky.
"He reminds me Thibaut Pinot a bit. But he'll write his own history. Taking young riders to the highest level is what excites me the most in this job. Sometimes I strengthen my team with older riders but I'm not interested in opening a cheque book to recruit accomplished stars. Philippe Gilbert and Bradley McGee have given me my biggest satisfactions when they became world champion and Tour de France prologue winner."
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