By Simon Smythe
Shimano has announced it is extending its long-term partnership with French team Groupama-FDJ marking 25 years of collaboration, more than with any other team in the WorldTour.
Marc Madiot’s team has been running Shimano components since 1997 and the anniversary coincides with Shimano’s own, the Japanese company’s centenary that it celebrates in 2021.
The team, which has also been supported by the Française des Jeux lottery since two-time Paris-Roubaix winner Madiot set it up in 1997, has recorded over 530 victories including three Monuments and 35 Grand Tour stage victories on Shimano's flagship Dura-Ace groupset.
In that first year Frédéric Guesdon echoed his directeur sportif’s most famous victories with a win at Paris-Roubaix, while Christophe Mengin won a Tour de France stage and Davide Rebellin – who is still a pro aged 49 – won the Clasica San Sebastian and the GP Zurich.
That year their Gitane bikes were equipped with the now-iconic nine-speed Dura-Ace 7700, all gleaming polished aluminium.
Five years later Bradley Wiggins turned pro with FDJ, where he stayed for a year.
In 2012 Madiot memorably leant out of the window of the team car and banged on the door as he urged Thibaut Pinot to victory as the youngest rider in the Tour at age 22.
Pinot features on the 2021 team roster alongside current French national champion Arnaud Démare and European time trial champion Stefan Küng, who will all start the season on Lapierre Aircode (pictured) and Xelius bikes equipped with Shimano’s Di2 shifting and disc brake technology with the Dura-Ace R9170 groupset.
Shimano’s new Dura-Ace is expected to be unveiled later in 2021. Its usual product cycle would have seen Dura-Ace released in 2020 and Ultegra in 2021, but since the flagship groupset is now expected to be launched in line with the brand's 100-year anniversary, it remains to been seen where that leaves the next Ultegra iteration.
In a Shimano press release Madiot said: "It’s rather fitting that Shimano and Team Groupama-FDJ celebrate a historic anniversary in the year that Shimano themselves celebrate their centenary. Whether it’s a quarter of a century of celebrating success or 100 years of making revolutionary bike components, Shimano has an enviable record of helping its customers and partners deliver quality when and where it matters. We look forward to more anniversaries and special moments in the years to come.”
Shimano sponsorship manager Myron Walraven said: “Team Groupama-FDJ are one of the fundamental cornerstones of our sponsorship approach. Consistently delivering stellar performances in front of the cameras and working as a true partner behind the cameras, Shimano’s products are undoubtedly better thanks to the collaboration with Marc and the legendary riders under his leadership over the years.”
Groupama-FDJ kicked off their WorldTour calendar at the UAE Tour, which started on Sunday February 21, with Anthony Roux sprinting to seventh place.
Shimano has also today announced the continuation of its sponsorship of Team DSM, formerly Sunweb. DSM’s men’s, women’s and development programmes will continue to use Shimano's components and accessories including Dura-Ace groupsets, wheels, power meters and PRO saddles. They will also use the latest Shimano S-Phyre RC902 shoes.
Simon Smythe is Cycling Weekly's senior tech writer and has been in various roles at CW since 2003. His first job was as a sub editor on the magazine following an MA in online journalism (yes, it was just after the dot-com bubble burst).
In his cycling career Simon has mostly focused on time trialling with a national medal, a few open wins and his club's 30-mile record in his palmares. These days he spends a bit more time testing road bikes, or on a tandem doing the school run with his younger son.
What's in the stable? There's a Colnago Master Olympic, a Hotta TT700, an ex-Castorama lo-pro that was ridden in the 1993 Tour de France, a Pinarello Montello, an Independent Fabrication Club Racer, a Shorter fixed winter bike and a renovated Roberts with a modern Campag groupset.
And the vital statistics:
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