Frenchman Pierrick Fédrigo won the Critérium International over the weekend thanks to a strong display on the Col de l’Ospedale when he left the likes of Evans, Contador and Rogers trailing. Bravo!
I’ve long kept an eye on him since he beat me in a race a good 10 or 12 years ago. I remember this fat-faced kid on a dirty bike and thinking he’d struggle but four hours later I was in a breakaway heading to the finish with several others including “fat face”. With an uphill finish looming I’d selected another rider’s wheel – Tadej Valjavec in fact – only to see this kid come past us all, I can still hear the speaker’s voice “et Fedrigo, Fédrigo, oui c’est Fédrigo qui gagne, 20 ans apres son père!”, (“Fédrigo, Fédrigo, yes it’s Fédrigo who wins, 20 years after his father won”) as this young rider won by a big margin and left the rest of us looking like fools for ignoring him.
He’s a massive talent but I can’t help feeling he’s wasted some of it. When he gets some racing miles in his legs things fall into place and he collects a few good wins each year. Fédrigo didn’t even know how many kilometres he’d racked up this winter; as much as I admire artistry on a bike, this is careless.
BBox-Bouygues team is a happy family but I think Fédrigo is a rider who needs a stricter environment, who needs to be pushed. If he was at über-strict HTC-Columbia then he’d be under orders to train and to deliver results and perhaps these methods would bring him even better results.
Maybe some of this frustration is personal: I’ve seen his talent up close and wish he’d reach his full potential. It could just be that he’s happy with his lot, a few wins a year, a good contract and a lack of pressure might be enough, most of us would settle for this! Although he did make noises about wanting to ride for a Pro Tour team and tried to break his contract with BBox, suggesting more ambition lurks inside. Here’s hoping he gains in confidence and builds on his success at the weekend with the Ardennes classics coming up.