2014 Team Previews: FDJ

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Who are the sponsor? FDJ are the French Lottery.

Nationality: French.

2013 Ranking: 17th

Past Stars: Philippe Gilbert, Bradley McGee, Baden Cooke, Thomas Lofkvist, Bernard Eisel, Gustav Larsson, Sandy Casar.

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Selected Team Palmares: Stage, 2012 Tour de France (Thibaut Pinot), Stages, Tour de France 2006, 2009, 2010, 2012, Criterium International 2010 (Pierrick Fedrigo).

Brief Team History: FDJ, formerly not abbreviated as Francais des Jeux, have often been the ‘feeder team’ as such of the French scene, producing good young riders who then get poached by the bigger teams. If they weren’t French, they certainly wouldn’t be at the Tour so often. As a result, their team has often managed to have a period of a stars early career where they get early good results, before they move on, such as Gilbert, who won them Het Volk and Paris-Tours. People like Baden Cooke won them the green jersey in 2004 at the Tour, and from 2010 onwards they’ve had a resurgence with Sandy Casar’s Tour stage wins as well as the emergence of Thibaut Pinot and co as strong GC riders.

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Last year: FDJ have immeasurably improved their win rate thanks to Arnaud Demare and Nacer Bouhanni, who garnered some great results such as the first stage of Paris-Nice, a stage of the Tour de Suisse and the Eneco Tour as well as various lower level French races. This covered up for their lack of results at the Giro and the Tour, where poor Thibaut Pinot got badly ill and had to withdraw, until they won the queen stage of the Vuelta up the Angrilu with Kenny Elissonde having already won to Peyragudes with Alexandre Geniez.  Pinot finished 7th in that Vuelta, before Bouhanni won a couple of stages of the Tour of Beijing to boost their total for the year.

Transfer dealings: There’s basically no change, with Sebastian Chavanel brought in to replace the retiring Sandy Casar.

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Who are the star riders? French great hope Thibaut Pinot is the man they want to suceed at the Tour, and at 23 he still has a great chance. Pierrick Fedrigo is growing long in the tooth but usually delivers a big win along the way, but the win clock will be ticked along by ex-boxer Nacer Bouhanni and U23 World Champion Arnaud Demare as they sprint their way to victory. They do have young climbing hopes like Kenny Elissonde and Alexandre Geniez, whilst Arnold Jeanneson is tipped for success. Jeremy Roy and Yohan Offredo enjoy inflitrating breaks.

Fashion police: They changed their kit from white to royal blue at last years Tour, which was about the only memorable thing they did at the race. Some sublte logo changes remain, but otherwise it’s the same thing.

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What are their targets? The Tour. Their year revolves around it, and they will want Pinot to improve on his 10th place in 2012 and for stage wins after a year without.  Bouhanni and Demare will probably ride this year to try their hand at a stage win in a Grand Tour, which has so far eluded them.Yoan Offredo will attack on the Poggio, because he always does.

What are they likely to achieve?  They’re going to win plenty with Bouhanni and Demare, but whether they can improve the quality of those wins in an increasingly crowded field will be interesting, especially given they don’t bother with a lead out train. A Tour de France stage win is probable, and the route suits Pinot, who should be happy with the top 10 again given his age and strong Vuelta result. They will also hopefully win the French national championships, if only for the glorious national championships kit they produce.

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Components: FDJ use Lappierre bikes and Shimano components.

The Big Question(s): Can Pinot get back to his 2012 form? Can Bouhanni get a stage win at a Grand Tour?

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