Contributed by David Hunter
Soupe is capable of delivering his sprinter to the very front of the peloton, at the perfect time. When he rides with Démare they are very hard to beat. That being said, he doesn’t want to just be a lead-out man, but has ambitions to be a winner of races himself. I caught up with Geoffrey, last week, and we talked about sprinting, lead-outs and his hopes for the future.
Geoffrey in action at the 2013 Paris-Nice
What did you think about your 2013 season?
My 2013 had its ups and downs. I achieved most of the goals that I had set: in Qatar, Oman, Paris Nice, and 4 days of Dunkirk. One regret is not making the team for the Tour de France.
The highlight for me was your performance in Dunkirk. You were working for Démare and were outstanding! Is this a role we will see you do more?
For 2 years I attached particular importance to leading the sprints, this is an area in which I feel at ease and where I want to get involved. I first started working with Nacer Bouhanni, and this year I could help Arnaud Démare, as well. I will continue to do what works.
On stage 3 you were so good, that you held on for 2nd place. Démare winning and you 2nd must have been a special moment?
Stage 3 was the best of the 4 Days of Dunkirk. I felt we were going to launch Arnaud very quickly. When he raised his arms, it was also a victory for me. This kind of sprint, we both realised, does not occur every time. This time we really appreciated it.
At the Ride London Classic, you again were unstoppable. You delivered Démare perfectly and he finished it off. How does it feel when this happens?
In London, with Arnaud, we already had our benchmark and we didn’t change our plan. He had confidence in me, that I’m fast enough, and is not asking any questions. I did my job successfully and I was proud to see him win.
Démare taking the win in London.
You and Démare seem to have a great understanding and when you race together he looks like he could beat anyone. How much work goes into the sprint train?
The approach of a sprint starts before the race. Each sprinter has their own preferences and I adapt. I must be strong to keep the pace of the peloton in the final, must get to the front while keeping my sprinter in my wheel. Maximum effort is made in the last 500m or when the sprinter wants to be launched. For Arnaud is about 200metres. It is a difficult job!
Even if another team is dominating the final kilometres, you arrive at a very fast pace and go straight to the front. How hard is this to do?
You must have natural qualities such as explosiveness and lactate tolerance. Then it’s a your own job to improve in these areas.
Your bike handling skills are very good. How much of an advantage does this give you?
When the bike is more rigid it transmits more energy, so it will be more effective. It is quite difficult to quantify everything. There is also a frame geometry, that can offer better air penetration.
What races are you looking forward to in 2014?
In 2014, I first go to the Tour Down Under, Algarve, Paris Nice, Criterium International, the Tour of the Basque country, Amstel, Fleche Wallonne, LBL, and the Giro d’Italia. I want to be successful in the Ardennes classics this year: Amstel Gold and Leige-Bastogne-Leige.
Geoffrey getting some pre-race attention at the Tour Down Under this year. He and his FDJ team had a fairly quiet race but are looking to ramp up their performances with the European season kicking off this weekend.
At 25 years old, you are still young. What type of rider do you see yourself becoming?
The years pass quickly and I would love to show my true potential. I have not had a chance to show it yet, apart from my role as pilot fish. I have explosive capabilities that could serve me well in the Ardennes classics, for example.
What races are you looking to do well in?
I want to be successful in Paris Nice, the Ardennes classics and the Giro.
What are your goals for 2014?
My main goal this year will be the Giro. I want to see where I am.
This season will be massive for Geoffrey, can he develop into the best lead-out man and also take advantage of his own talents in the Ardennes? Only time will tell, but he certainly has a great chance.