MADIOT: CONTADOR MEANS NOTHING IN FRANCE

Marc Madiot, Francaise des Jeux?s team manager, says Tour de France champion Alberto Contador would not be recognised by the public if he walked around Paris in his regular clothes.

?If he was on the Champs Elysées today wearing his normal clothes, nobody ? absolutely nobody ? would know who he was,? said the Frenchman.

And he added: ?Do you know who finished fifth in the Tour? [Haimar] Zubeldia, wasn?t it? I haven?t got anything against Zubeldia but if he walked past me now I wouldn?t recognise him.?

The lack of star quality in cycling ? and an identity crisis for the top riders ? is just one of the subjects the former Paris-Roubaix winner tackles in a scathing but thought-provoking assessment of the sport?s problems in the latest issue of Cycle Sport.

Madiot also blamed rival managers for stifling the racing with negative tactics.

?All the team managers are too worried. They sit there in their cars, they calculate, and they calculate the life out of the racing,? he said.

?The sense of strategy has gone, the public knows in advance what is going to happen.

?Ninety per cent of the bike races you see on television, you?re bored stiff. You know what?s going to happen. The break goes away, the bunch make a tempo behind, they bring the break back, there?s a sprint.?

And he admitted he kept falling asleep while watching the Vuelta a Espana last month. ?This is my business! If I?m fast asleep, nobody else is going to watch it, are they?

?Instead of watching the Tour of Spain I watched Formula 1. That was dull too so I ended up watching NASCAR from the United States. That?s a real spectacle. They know how to keep the public interested.?

Read Alasdair Fotheringham?s full interview in the January issue of Cycle Sport in which Madiot outlines his vision for the Francaise des Jeux team ? and offers some constructive ideas for the future of cycling. OUT NOW ? £3.95.

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Lionel Birnie

Sports journalist Lionel Birnie has written professionally for Sunday Times, Procycling and of course Cycling Weekly. He is also an author, publisher, and co-founder of The Cycling Podcast. His first experience covering the Tour de France came in 1999, and he has presented The Cycling Podcast with Richard Moore and Daniel Friebe since 2013. He founded Peloton Publishing in 2010 and has ghostwritten and published the autobiography of Sean Kelly, as well as a number of other sports icons.