Each month, Pavé editors and contributors engage in spirited debate about which team deserves the increasingly prestigious accolade of Team of the Month. Last month, we awarded Team of the Month to Rabobank after a strong performances in races such as the Tour Down Under and Tour of Oman. Their February featured diverse and dominant wins.
This month’s award will be given to Française des Jeux, but not for the same reasons that Rabobank won in February. In fact FDJ has had a hard time getting firm footing on the podiums of major races, but regardless, they have grabbed out attention during the races in March for being extremely aggressive and gutsy in their riding. To wit was Steve Chainel’s attack on the descent of the Cipressa during the closing stages of “la classica di Primavera”, Milan-San Remo, with Yoann Offredo at hand to follow the counter-attacks. Despite his skill and tenacity on the Cipressa descent, Chainel crashed heavily on the run-off of the Poggio. Offredo finished 7th, last in an elite group of attackers who had managed to separate themselves from the lead group over the Poggio. Chainel and Offredo’s performance meant that FDJ’s performance at Milan-San Remo was close yet far. Regardless of what could have been, it was an impressive team effort by two young up-and-comers.
The iconic French team has been fraught with disappointment in the month of March; with consistent second, third, fifth, sixth and pretty much every other placing apart from the top podium spot. Before this weekend’s Tour of Flanders, Offredo was forced to watch rather than start the race after a result of a crash after the finish line of Gent-Wevelgem after taking eleventh place in the sprint. This leaves the FDJ with a frustrating situation, but given the great determination shown by the team, they are deserving of March’s award.
Despite their “could have beens,” however, FDJ were leading the UCI Europe Tour standings early in the month, with 5 FDJ riders in the first 27 of the classification. This is at least one feather in their so far unadorned cap, and if the team are consistent with their valiant style of racing they should add a few more feathers by the end of the season.
Stay tuned for March’s Rider of the Month later on this week. In the meantime, what teams impressed you with their teamwork this month?