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"Degenkolb and Kittel have already showed that it is possible. In the beginning of October, we have already outlined the schedules for the start of the season and we will confirm them in December. Our two sprinters will not ride t...

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ARNAUD DEMARE

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ARTHUR VICHOT

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GROUPAMA-FDJ

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JOHAN LE BON

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KENNY ELISSONDE

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MATTHIEU LADAGNOUS

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NACER BOUHANNI

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SEBASTIEN CHAVANEL

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THIBAUT PINOT

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WILLIAM BONNET

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YOANN OFFREDO

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06.11.2013 @ 17:56 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

Nacer Bouhanni and Arnaud Demare have shared sprinting duties at FDJ for two years but with their much success, people have started to doubt whether they can co-exist in the same team in the future. In an interview published on the team's website, manager Marc Madiot denies the problems and claims that they have already planned the early part of the season.

 

FDJ is one of the oldest teams in the professional peloton but in 2013, the team took a massive step forward. Having always been regarded as a minor team on the WorldTour, the team took much more responsibility in the races and had massive success with 33 wins and another 40 podium spots.

 

Much of the success was due to the team's two young French sprinters Arnaud Demare and Nacer Bouhanni. Having both started their careers on the French team, the duo have gradually progressed and are now regarded as some of the greatest sprinters in the world.

 

Bouhanni won 11 races in 2013 and added to his WorldTour palmares by winning two stages in the Tour of Beijing and one in the Paris-Nice. Demare was victorious in 9 races and won twice on the WorldTour: once in the Tour de Suisse and once in the Eneco Tour.

 

Unsurprisingly, the two sprinters have rarely raced together and in 2013, they only joined forces in the GP de Denain, the national championships and the Omloop van het Houtland - Lichtervelde. The main goals were shared between the two sprinters, with Bouhanni riding the Tour, Giro, Paris-Nice and Criterium du Dauphiné and Demare getting his chance in races like Tirreno-Adriatico, the cobbled classics, the Tour de Suisse, the Vattenfall Cyclassics, the Eneco Tour and Paris-Tours

 

Several people have suggested that it will be hard to make the duo co-exist on the team in the future. However, team manager Marc Madiot insists that they will be able to handle the internal rivalry by sharing the biggest races equally among them.

 

"Degenkolb and Kittel have already showed that it is possible," he said in an interview on the team's website. "In the beginning of October, we have already outlined the schedules for the start of the season and we will confirm them in December. Our two sprinters will not ride together. Not because it is impossible, but because it's better to try to win with both of them."

 

A successful season

However, FDJ has been about much more than just sprinting success. Thibaut Pinot finished 7th in the Vuelta a Espana, Kenny Elissonde and Alexandre Geniez won the two biggest mountain stages in that race, Matthieau Ladagnous rode really well in the cobbled classics and the team dominated the French calendar.

 

Madiot is pleased with the outcome of the season.

 

"I said that our goal was 30 wins as I expected that my two sprinters could each win 10 races," he said. "Eleven riders lifted their arms in celebration. This shows that it is possible to work for a leader and also take your own chance in certain races."

 

With the success, more responsibility has followed and FDJ has often been seen riding on the front of the peloton.

 

"We found our role in the second of the season," he said. "Before then, it was not always good even though we had some satisfaction, the 4 Jours de Dunkerque for example. Collectively, our confidence grew and we earned respect from the other teams. When our guys were on the front in the WorldTour races, no one tried to push us away. This is our place now. We ride, we work, we do everything to win!"

 

The cobbled classics

Ladagnous showed that the team can play a role in the cobbled classics when he finished 6th in Gent-Wevelgem and 5th in the Tour of Flanders. With Yoann Offredo also returning to his former level and Demare showing great promise, Madiot is confident that his team will be a force to be reckoned with in the Flemish races.

 

"I liked it [the classics campaign] because we have continued our growth," he said. "Mentally and physically, we were in the mix in Omloop Het Nieuwsblad and Paris-Roubaix.

 

"We need to have confidence and also look a bit less at what the others are doing. We should not look at Omega Pharma-Quick Step. If a team is playing against Paris SG and only look at them, they cannot win.

 

"I know I will be able to rely on the trio Ladagnous-Bonnet-Offredo but next sprint, Demare and [Johan] Le Bon will also be there. And [neo-pro Pierre-Henri] Lecuisinier will soon be in the mix. Offredo has found his role in the team as a good lieutenant for Nacer and Arnaud and he knows that he will have his moment of glory in the classics."

 

The Ardennes classics

In the Canadian WorldTour races, French champion Arthur Vichot showed that he has great potential in the hilly one-day races. Madiot expects him to shine in the Ardennes in 2014.

 

"Arthur Vichot has gained experience and confidence," he said. "His results in Canada in September have done him well. And many of our riders like these races [the Ardennes classics]."

 

Pinot will be back in the Tour

Thibaut Pinot carried the French expectations on his shoulders in the Tour but left the race hugely disappointed, citing a sore throat. He bounced back with a strong showing in the Vuelta and Madiot is confident that his grand tour star will rise to the challenge in 2014.

 

"It's part of the life of a team, the life of a rider," he said when asked about Pinot's Tour. "It was a difficult moment for Thibaut but he has to get through it. His reaction in the Vuelta was good. He raised his head and the Tour will not be too difficult for him in the future. In Spain, he demonstrated that he belongs to the top.

 

" The goal in 2014 is to erase his mistakes. To convince him to ride on the cobbles [in the Tour] for example. He is surrounded by very good climbers and they will have their own chances as well. For example, Kenny [Elissonde] will return to the Vuelta."

 

New signings

The team has only signed three new riders for 2014 but it was always Madiot's intention to keep the successful team largely unchanged. He praises his three new signings.

 

"It [the transfer season] was successful because the riders whom I wanted to keep, have all extended their contracts," he said. "The . The young Lecuisinier and Le [Oliver] Gac will fit in well. Sebastien Chavanel will do the last 500 metres for Nacer. For the rest, the key word is to keep the momentum."

 

Only Sandy Casar who has retired, and Dominique Rollin will leave the team at the end of the season.

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