Groupama-FDJ manager Marc Madiot is expecting the unexpected when the compressed 2020 road season finally gets underway on August 1. The outspoken Frenchman says his team will be ready to make the most of less than ideal scenarios.
With racing starting with on August 1 with Strade Bianche and little time to race before the Tour de France on August 29, Madiot says the riders will have to be ready to race, and ready to race a lot.
"There will be no catch-up sessions, as the season will be short and tight. It will be necessary to be as ready as possible to tackle the end of the season in good conditions. They may not be 100 per cent from August 1, but they will have to be ready overall," Madiot said in a team interview.
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"It is not possible that everything will be perfect. There will inevitably be some hitches in terms of organization, calendar, with slightly less good events in terms of participation, with races not unfolding just quite the same as in the past … But all that is not a big deal.
"You have to see the bright side of things: life starts up again, races start up again, we haven't given up and we're back in the races. This is how I will personally try to live the moment."
Even the biggest WorldTour teams will be struggling to pull together riders, equipment and staff for numerous overlapping events, making for logistical headaches, but Madiot looked on the bright side to October 25, when Paris-Roubaix, the Giro d'Italia and the Vuelta a España will all overlap.
"It will be a 'Super Sunday' of cycling. Imagine a cycling fan! He'll almost need to have three screens at home … although there will likely be some scheduling to make sure we can see as much of them as possible.
"I even think that there can be a special communication on a day like this. It's like England's football games at Christmas: we'll have our own Boxing Day! For logistics, we will sort it out. Even if the logistics were not to be exactly the same as usual, it would not be a disaster. Anyway, I want to live this day, it will be quite historical."
As a French team, Madiot said he is obliged to also field squads for the non-WorldTour French races. "We will participate in as many races as possible with the maximum number of riders. To the extent possible, we will do as many races as we can, even if the schedule will be very very busy at times."
Madiot says the early August races will be the same for all riders, coming into high-profile WorldTour one-day races without any competition in their legs and expects them to approach the races differently.
"The preparation will be a bit postponed, to say the least, but we'll have to make do. We are not going to be picky. The race calendar will be what it will be. It is not ideal in any case, but the most important is that the races can take place and that we, Groupama-FDJ cycling team, can participate in as many of them as possible."
The upside-down season sees the Tour de France taking place after the peak holiday season and Madiot expects there to be fewer fans lining the roads, but said the important thing is that the race goes on and goes well.
"The main thing in this whole period is that we can race and that we can find events as close as possible to what we're used to. I think everyone will be happy to see a race again, just as we will be happy to watch a football match again. If there are a little fewer people than usual, it will not be a big deal. Anyway, I think that people who will not be on the side of the road will be in front of their television for the stages finishes. This will make up for that."
Madiot said he is interested to see how the Classics will play out, being run after the Tour de France for the first time. Regarding the Giro d'Italia and Vuelta a España in the autumn with questionable weather - he said he trusts the organisers to do the right thing.
"Organizers have always managed to adapt to the situations, especially weather. They will be able to do it again. Honestly, I'm not worried about this and about the routes. People in charge will be able to adjust the course if necessary. For us, these new dates inevitably kind of upset our bearings, but at the same time, it is an additional curiosity and it is not that unpleasant! In any case, it will be difficult to do the Tour and the Giro. Tour and Vuelta, why not. We will have to take a closer look at this when the entire calendar is definitively approved."