Stakeholder interview Groupama-FDJ Cycling Team
‘We are trying to create a partnership that is unique in professional cycling’
For more than 15 years, Lapierre has been the official materials supplier of the Groupama-FDJ Cycling Team. A partnership that has taken Lapierre bikes to stage wins on the Tour de France, the Vuelta and the Giro. Marc Madiot, two-time winner of Paris-Roubaix and nowadays the manager of the team, talks about the secret behind one of the longest lasting partnerships in professional cycling.
What is the origin of the collaboration between Groupama-FDJ and Lapierre?
“Back in 2002, we were not just looking for a company that would just supply us with materials or funding, but for a cycling brand that wanted to build a long lasting partnership with us. With Lapierre, there was not only a shared heritage and a good fit between our brands, but also a strong personal connection. I have known Gilles Lapierre for a long time and I think we share not just a passion for cycling but also a vision on sponsorship. Our partnership is now entering its seventeenth year.”
What makes this partnership unique?
“The strong level of R&D collaboration is really what sets this collaboration apart. Our own engineers are based in the village of Besancon, which is just a short drive away from Lapierre’s home base in Dijon. This makes it easy to exchange ideas and keep an open dialogue during all stages of the development process. Everything we do is with a very clear goal in mind: helping our riders win races.”
Why are good materials so important?
“For a race cyclist, the bike is not just an extension, but almost a part of his body. This requires a perfect fit, which is the result of a lot of small details coming together. But it would be a mistake to think about it purely from a scientific perspective, there is also strong psychological factor. If you can trust the quality of your materials for the full 100%, you are able to put all your energy in the race. That is a state of mind.”
How does the innovation process work?
“For Lapierre, the Groupama-FDJ-sponsorship is their primary platform for innovation. We work closely together on product development and testing, pushing the boundaries of performance. A good example is the new Shock Absorption Technology (SAT) on the Endurance models, which protects riders from shocks on uneven terrain. This technology was developed specifically to navigate the cobblestones in famous classics such as Paris-Roubaix and the Tour of Flanders. Another good example are the aerodynamic features on the Aircode and Aerostorm models. These innovations are now also applied in the commercial product lines.”
What can we expect from Groupama-FDJ and Lapierre in 2018?
“The new sponsor contract with Groupama allows us to increase our budget and be even more ambitious than before. We want to win some stages in the Tour and the Giro this year and be successful in the spring classics. In fact, I have high hopes for a victory in Paris-Roubaix. While such victories are important for the racers, the team and our sponsors, we strive for long term success. Ultimately, this is also what we try to do with Lapierre: to make constant progress and create something unique.”