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"Black day, we had a really black day. We had never imagined such a misfortune," manager Marc Madiot says

Photo: Sirotti












08.04.2013 @ 11:27 Posted by Jesper Johannesen

The FDJ team lined up at the Paris-Roubaix with a three-pronged attack. However, an extreme run of bad luck took out the three captains Matthieu Ladagnous, Yoann Offredo and Arnaud Demare and it was left to young Johan Le Bon to deliver the only source for optimism on a dark day for the French squad.


With Matthieu Ladagnous, Yoann Offredo and Arnaud Demare all in the mix in the Tour of Flanders, there was plenty of optimism in the FDJ camp prior to yesterday's Paris-Roubaix. In its first year without former race winner Frederic Guesdon - now a sports director at the team - the squad had never had so many options in the Hell of the North.


On a black day the captains were, however, taken out of contention one by one. The first to be eliminated was former U23 world champion Arnaud Demare in his debut in the Queen of the Classics.


"First it was the puncture of Arnaud Demare," manager Marc Madiot explained. "Just one puncture and Arnaud was never able to get back to the peloton. He was very brave, he kept going for kilometer after kilometer in the convoy, but he never returned. And nonetheless he finished his first Paris-Roubaix. His performance was impressive."


Offredo crashes

Moments later, it was Offredo who lost all hopes of a top result. In a moment of inattention, he hit a traffic island and was brought down in dramatic fashion.


"He was a laggard, "Mardiot explained. "He came to ask me for a bike change. Before he reached me, he did not see a traffic island which split the peloton in two and he hit a sign at full speed. He is hurt and has injured his chin, knees and ribs. For him, the race stopped like that."


Ladagnous out of contention

The team was now left with just one option, Ladagnous. The Frenchman had with a 6th place in Gent-Wevelgem and 5th in the Tour of Flanders so the team still had any reason for optimism.


However, bad luck stroke again with 60km to go when the captain was brought down in a large crash. With a hurt leg, he tried to continue but had to abandon moments later.


The incident capped off a terrible day for the team.


"Black day, we had a really black day. We had never imagined such a misfortune," Madiot said.


Le Bon shines

One rider was able to provoke a smile from the team manager. Young Johan Le Bon who had already impressed with an overall fourth place in the Driedaagse van de Panne fought valiantly in his race debut and finished as the team's best rider in 26th 3.17 behind race winner Fabian Cancellara (Radioshack).


"I had to work hard for Yoann (Offredo, ed.) before the Arenberg," Le Bon explained. "I had to fight hard but this role forced me to do so and Yoann always advised me how to help in the best possible way. And then everything ended with his crash.


"I was lost, I did not know what to do," he continued. "I saw Matthieu Ladagnous. He was in front with William (Bonnet, ed.). I wanted to work for them. Then Lada (Ladagnous, ed.) crashed. This is a super hard race for us. I finished and it will serve me in the future but the situation is sad, very sad for us because we had high hopes."


The team now turns its attentions to the Ardennes classics where the likes of Pierrick Fedrigo and Arthur Vichot are expected to the lead the French outfit.



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