Groupama - FDJ Season Review
Updated: Dec 29, 2019
With a start in the French classics the team came short of a win but hit the post twice with Valentin Madouas whilst in the opening weekend the results weren't strong enough to prove anything yet, and the focus on the French cup was worth it in the end as Marc Sarreay won it and took wins here in Cholet - Pays de Loire and Route Adélie de Vitré, the team was quite successful in that side whilst in the cobbles the results never showed up, Arnaud Démare topped it off with a solid eleventh place in Paris-Roubaix after the consistency and luck lacked.
As for the main road classics, well the results never appeared there aswell until the Ardennes where Valentin Madouas and David Gaudu netting Top10's in Amstel Gold Race and Liége.
As for the stage-races the story changed, there were some wins coming in at good pace with Pinot winning Haut Var and stage wins in Bessèges and Algarve, Gaudu was third in UAE, Molard and Madouas were flying in Paris-Nice with Pinot keeping them coming in Tirreno-Adriatico and Catalunya.
In Romandie the team stepped up with Kung and Gaudu taking back to back wins alongside a fifth place, Pinot won the Tour de l'Ain and then fifth in the Dauphiné, several wins in the national championships, Occitanie and Wallonie and a Top10 in Binckbank where Kung was showing form ahead of the Worlds meant for a solid summer outside of the Grand Tours where I'll move after now.
It was somewhat a complicated season for the team here, not because of lack of preparation or tactics but bad luck definetely hit the team hard where it was focusing the most. On topic, obviously, is Thibaut Pinot's abandon in the Tour whilst he was sitting in a position to finish on the podium and a very strong candidate to the win, he did obtain a stage win but it was very little compared to what the team was targeting, the team was looking great and all in so having Pinot abandon so late meant there was no time to fix the situation.
As for the other Grand Tours, the Giro was an interesting one as Arnaud Démare powered to take a stage win and was on his way to take the Maglia Ciclamino until a tactical mistake in the final sprint stage had them loose it, whilst Valentin Madouas had his Grand Tour debut and despite a modest thirteenth place, which in itself was very good for what was initially expected the way he was consistent until the end and even seemed to get stronger as the race went on, and as for the Vuelta there were no real results, but the team was indeed looking to get some experience for some younger riders so there was no pressure put on the team in there.
Démare's Top10 in Hamburg felt like the result to look out in August mainly, some solid results but nothing to showcase for, a win the Tour du Doubs by Kung antecipated his brilliant podium in the Worlds, a couple of wins in Slovakia and Sarreau taking the Tour de Vendée and Paris-Bourges to complete his season and the team's tally, whilst in the Italian Autumn classics David Gaudu promised a lot but never got the big one, alongside Molard they finished in and just outside the Top10 in Lombardia.
Interview with Ignatas Konovalovas
Echelons: What were your highs and lows of the year?
Ignatas: I could say my high and low this year was the Giro. As I had very good form and was performing very good to support Démare, but had to stop after 12 stages because of a lower back herniated disk.
E: What are some of the biggest challenges dealing with injuries?
I: The biggest challenge I would say is the mental challenge. You want to train and perform but at the same time you feel that injury stops you of being at 100%.
E: Groupama is one of the teams that’s maintaining their main structure and team core, is this something that can benefit the team this year in relation to some that went big in the transfers?
I: Groupama - FDJ all really functions very well, so why trying change something when everything is ok? We missed some results with the Démare group probably, or at least we wanted more for sure. But this will come next year. Pinot is good as always. And we have amazing youngsters that will kick next year (Gaudu, Madouas).
E: Finally, what are your goals for next season?
I: My personal goal is to be fit at first and then healthy. Then will probably have some changes at the spring classics mixing it with some other races and not doing all the Belgian classics. But in general my goal is to see my team leaders winning and knowing that I have played an important role in that.
Wins (WT): 24 (4)
Highlight: Pinot's win on the Tourmalet
Best Performer: Thibaut Pinot
Biggest Surprise: Valentin Madouas
Negative Surprise: Daniel Hoelgaard