Young talent to the fore at FDJ-BigMat in 2012

After regaining WorldTour status for the 2012 season, FDJ-BigMat manager Marc Madiot is ready to hand greater responsibility to the team’s younger riders, with Thibaut Pinot, Arnold Jeannesson and world under 23 champion Arnaud Démare expected to continue their progress.

“We’re going to really give them their responsibilities, have them express themselves at 100 percent of their capabilities,” Madiot said, according to Ouest France. “Perhaps they will find it difficult to win the first year, but the objective is to put them in the role of leader as often as possible, racing at the front.”

The promising Thibaut Pinot would dearly love to make his Tour de France debut in 2012, given that stage 8 to Planche des Belles Filles passes though his home town of Mélisey, but Madiot hinted that he may instead choose to hand the youngster a leadership role at the Vuelta a España. Similarly, Démare is set to take his Grand Tour bow at the Giro d’Italia.

“That might be the case for Thibaut Pinot if we chose to send him to the Vuelta, but also for Démare at the Tour of Qatar or the Giro, so that he might learn how to race in a Grand Tour. The team will be built around him at the Giro. He has more of a chance of not winning than of winning, but we want to put ourselves in a situation where we could win with the young riders.”

While Sandy Casar is set to make a return to the Giro d’Italia, Arnold Jeannesson will lead FDJ-BigMat at the Tour de France. 15th overall in Paris last year, Madiot is hopeful that the 26-year-old can improve further in 2012.

“Jeannesson is going to be protected and have teammates who are going to shelter him from the wind and bring him up to the front of the race,” Madiot said. “He finished 15th on the Tour when nobody particularly expected much from him at this level. He is going to have a season more in line with his experience. I think he has become aware of his capacities and his qualities, which are perfectly suited to the Tour.”

For another one of Madiot’s young guns, Yoann Offredo, the horizon is a little more clouded, however. In early January, it emerged that he had missed three doping controls in 2011, and now risks a two-year suspension. Madiot reiterated his team’s support for the whereabouts system as an anti-doping measure, but questioned the severity of the possible penalty faced by Offredo.

“There were problems with whereabouts, proceedings are ongoing. We’re going to wait to see how it unfolds,” Madiot said. “The whereabouts system must exist, but perhaps be improved so as to facilitate the life of sportsmen, whether they are cyclists or from other sports. There’s no need to call it into question or seek its abolition as some are asking.

“Compared to other sports or to actual positive tests, the scale of penalties [for whereabouts violations] is disproportionate in my opinion, but that’s just my opinion. There needs to be reflection on it. Strong sanctions must be found: dissuasive, but not excessive at the same time.”

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