FDJ-BigMat possesses one of the best young rosters in the sport—certainly in France. But while some teams might be tempted to rush young talent to the Tour de France, FDJ is resisting the temptation and leaving men like Arnaud Demare and Nacer Bohanni (the new French road race champion) at home.
Instead, the team is allowing Thibaut Pinot to make his grand tour debut. One of the most talked-about riders in French cycling since he dominated the Giro della Valle d’Aosta (an important Italian stage race for amateurs) in 2009, Pinot won six races last year for FDJ and—after an impressive Tour de Suisse two weeks ago—gets his chance to tackle the Tour de France. If all goes well, Pinot could replicate the performance of Arnold Jeannesson during last year’s Tour in which the Frenchman held the white jersey for a few days. Coincidentally, Thibaut’s roster spot is likely to have come thanks to the sickness Jeannesson caught at the Dauphiné.
As for the rest of the squad, expect the team to once again challenge for stage wins with an impressive core of riders that includes Sandy Casar, Pierrick Fedrigo, Anthony Roux, and Jeremy Roy. Casar and Fedrigo seem to win stages just about every other year and after his breakaway exploits last year, Roy seems due for a breakthrough.
Man of the Hour
Sandy Casar has three Tour de France stage wins on his resume and looks ready to challenge for a fourth.
Pinot is an exciting rider with heaps of talent. If he develops as many think he might, he’ll join Pierre Rolland and Jerome Coppel as the cream of a young French crop.
On the Hot Seat
Pierrick Fedrigo joined FDJ prior to 2011 but missed the Tour de France after poor form and illness kept him winless all season. The 3-time stage winner returns to the race this year, hoping to regain his winning ways.
It seemed as if Jeremy Roy spent just about every other stage of last year’s Tour de France in a breakaway, as the Frenchman’s aggressive exploits quickly became one of the more entertaining subplots of the race. Here’s hoping Roy returns with the same amount of enthusiasm—with better results.
Follow Whit on Twitter at @whityost