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Best French Team

Mar 13, 2009
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Who is the best French team right now?

Here is the current UCI ranking:


18 18 COFIDIS, LE CREDIT EN LIGNE (COF) FRA 148
19 22 AG2R LA MONDIALE (ALM) FRA 135

20 19 ACQUA & SAPONE - D'ANGELO & ANTENUCCI (ASA) ITA 134
21 20 COLNAGO - CSF INOX (COG) IRL 119
22 21 VACANSOLEIL PRO CYCLING TEAM (VAC) NED 110
23 26 BBOX BOUYGUES TELECOM (BTL) FRA 109
24 23 TEAM MILRAM (MRM) GER 95
25 28 SAUR - SOJASUN (SAU) FRA 63
26 24 TOPSPORT VLAANDEREN - MERCATOR (TSV) BEL 60
27 25 FRANÇAISE DES JEUX (FDJ) FRA 56

All in all they're not so successful this season, only Landbouwkrediet and Footon come behins FdJ.

Here is my personal rating:

1) AG2R

If one were mean, one could say they are the best French team because they have the fewest French riders. Some of their international riders have quite a lot potential if you ask me - Arrieta, Efimkin, Nocentini, Roche, Elmiger, Valjavec ... plus some of the best French riders: Gadret, Dessel, Le Lay, Champion, Riblon ...
Plus they have the interesting habit of tearing the Peloton apart at the end of a stage, as seen on Paris-Nice or the Dauphiné. Not always clear what the intention behind that is but it's always nice for a change. They ride quite offensively, often have people in breaks, even up to 3, as seen on the Giro or Dauphiné. Too bad they get very few wins out of all that.
In my opinion AG2R is the only French team that could score a Top-10 GC placing in any GT.

2) Cofidis

Have some very promising talents, such as Keukeleire and El Fares. Have always had good riders in the past, but had to let them go: David Millar, Maxime Monfort. Also a good mixture of international riders such as Rein Taaramäe, Leonardo Duque and experienced French riders such as Sam Dumoulin, Christophe Kern, Stéphane Augé ...
All in all I'd say same concept as AG2R but not the same individual quality.

3) BBox - Bouygues Télécom

They have the most popular French rider Thomas Voeckler. I think if he left the team, that'd be a big blow to them. Some good riders such as Pierrick Fédrigo, Johann Tschopp, Nicolas Vogondy, Matthieu Sprick ... but no one really stands out as a definite leader, no GC contendor.
I think they said on France 2 during the Dauphiné that BBox would stop sponsorship next season ... did I miss something? Will the team exist next season or will it have to fold? Even if they don't win much it's always too bad to see such a stable team go.

4) Française des Jeux

Also had some very good riders in the past (Davide Rebellin, Philippe Gilbert, Brad McGee, Baden Cooke, Thomas Lövkvist) but again were unable to hold them. I feel like I see them less in breaks than the three above and their ranking shows they have won less than the three above so far this season. Still they have a more than decent line-up: Sandy Casar, Rémy Di Grégorio, Yauheni Hutarovich, Christophe Le Mevel, Jussi Veikannen, Benoît Vaugrenard. The team is just as strong as Cofidis or BBox IMO, they just seem to attack less, ride less offensively.

5) Saur-Sojasun

The youngest team with the smallest budget and the smallest line-up. Still they have some decent names: Jérôme Coppel, Sandy Casar, Cyril Lemoine, Jonathan Hivert. The individual quality does not come close to that of the other four teams though. The Tour de Luxembourg showed that Saur-Sojasun is unable to compete for GC, even in a relatively small tour - they could not defend the leader's jersey and I think only 3 riders of theirs finished the tour. I like the fact that they are often in breaks and they also had some nice wins this season like Jimmy Casper in Oman or Jimmy Engoulvent in Luxembourg. It'll be interesting to see how this team develops in the future.


All in all I'd say that the French teams are not necessarily that interested in competing globally, as opposed to Columbia, Saxo Bank, Cervélo, Sky ...
They are mostly sponsored by relatively small companies who focus on the French market. The races of the "Coupe de France" are really important to them, as is the Tour de France, but ToC for example or TdU just does not really have much of a point to them.
Also they are really stable teams, which is a good but also a bad thing. I think their consistency is very important in today's cycling world, where sponsors come and go year after year. On the other hand, they will probably never be able to significantly raise their budget and compete financially with Sky or Katusha for example. I think it was Laurent Jalabert who said once that French riders "get too comfortable" in French teams, that is to say they are not motivated enough, slack off a little bit.
The current lack of a French GC contendor probably adds to the problems of French teams ... too bad they couldn't get Romain Sicard, he could be the future of French cycling.
 
Apr 18, 2010
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You forgot Moncoutie for Cofidis, he's one of their team leaders.

I agree AG2R is probably the best French team, but Bouygues and Cofidis appear to be (much) more effective. If their riders get into a breakaway (in a GT) that manages to stay in front they regularly win.

just a few examples
Bouygues: Voeckler+Fedrigo in the Tour last year
Cofidis: Moncoutie in the Vuelta and Monier in the Giro.
 

ttrider

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Apr 23, 2010
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yeh i would say that francais des jeux and ag2r are set up more like traditional teams with aims albeit moderate ones for a gc or sprint, and don't waste energy

the two continental teams focus solely on stage wins and good for them Moncoutie and federigo are both very good on there day in the mountains but hasnt moinard got 10 wins this season in smaller races?! really is an excellent effort
 
Mar 19, 2010
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My Favourite is by far Saur-Sojasun.

It's 100% French, they're gutsy and animate any race they are in. They were excellent as a continental team and have won some good races as a pro conti team already.

And Jimmy Casper is pure class, he'll attack and sprint all race long till he inevitably "break the engine" one stage.

The others are boring.