Monday, June 25, 2012

FdJ: A Classics Powerhouse in the Making?

The win of Nacer Bouhanni in the French national championship road race, with teammate Arnaud Demare in second place, further reveals the worth of Francaise des Jeux's investments in their many young guns. All season long we have pondered the apparent friendly competition between Arnaud Demare and Yauheni Hutarovich, both having finished in the top ten of Kuurne-Brussels-Kurrne, and now Bouhanni has emerged as a contender for the sprints himself. Fans speak of Hutarovich as if he were "over the hill", but the fact of matter is that Hutarovichs is still 29 years old, Demare is merely 20, and Bouhanni is only 21.
Photo by Laurie Beylier under license CC BY-NC-SA 2.0.

Both Demare and Bouhanni are still too young to be pigeonholed - we are excited that Demare rode many spring semi-classics this year and even won Le Samyn, Cholet-Pays de Loire, and most importantly a stage of Tour of Qatar, which today is used as a warmup race by the top sprinters on the field. We were impressed by his win in Le Samyn, the opener of the Walloon racing season. He kept his cool in a hotly contested race, his team rallied around him, and he timed his sprint perfectly. Of course, he is U-23 world champion with another French youngster Adrien Petit in second place.

Bouhanni won a stage of Circuit de Lorraine and a stage of Etoile des Besseges, an important French stage race, and recently Halle-Ingooigem.

France hasn't won the World Championship since 1997 with Laurent Brochard. Further, their performance in the classics hasn't been great. Is it a dream to far that we may see a French winner of a classic, or the World Championship, in the next 5 years?

Share your thoughts below.

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