Groupama-FDJ head sports director Marc Madiot has uttered a dire warning about the future of cycling, saying “it has to do better, or it will be devoured by other sports.”
The outspoken head of the longstanding French WorldTour team referred to “recent stories of fusions and transfers” as examples of cycling’s fragility and called on the UCI to “regulate situations so that everybody is able to live and exist.”
At the end of last season, cycling was rocked when a potential fusion between Jumbo-Visma and Soudal-QuickStep suddenly surfaced in the media, while December’s bombshell news was Cian Uijtdebroeks’ last-minute early termination of his contract with Bora-Hansgrohe to head to Visma-Lease A Bike for 2024.
In the interview with Cyclism’actu during the Groupama-FDJ 2024 team launch earlier this week, Madiot also discussed his team’s goals in a year of significant changes following the retirement of Thibaut Pinot and Arnaud Démare’s mid-season transfer to Arkéa-Hotels B&B, as well as the emergence of young climbing Lenny Martínez in last year’s Vuelta a España and Mont Ventoux Dénivelé Challenge. At the same time, David Gaudu’s repeated assault on the Tour de France is bound to guarantee heightened interest in 2024.
“It’s a new chapter, a new book, a new history. There’s ambition, motivation and determination, I’m not particularly apprehensive about next year,” Madiot told cyclism’actu.
“My New Year’s Wish for 2024? The same as every year: win races. As many as possible, as often as possible and as important as possible.”
In the same interview, Madiot heaped scorn on the idea that professional cycling’s development could draw on football as a role model, arguing that it was better to try to maintain the sport’s current values.
Madiot had a warning about cycling’s overall development. “What would be damaging for it would be greater and greater similarity to fooball. And that’s even though I like football. We absolutely have to avoid that,” he said.
“We need to maintain our values and our reference points and I’m hoping for a lot from the UCI in that respect. I don’t want them just to focus on the height of socks, I want them to handle the regulation of our sport.”
Madiot cited the idea of a salary cap for riders, and a review of what could be comparatively unfavourable tax laws in France for sporting entities like Groupama-FDJ as areas where the UCI should be acting.
“Some kind of balance in levels of…