Marc Madiot, the boss at Francaise des Jeux, is a contrarian, pain in the ass, whiner, provocateur, free spirit, iconoclast butt-head. What a fantastic guy!
His latest bomb went off in L’Equipe where he grabbed the mic hard and proceeded to insult and deride the UCI and pretty much every foreign team in pro cycling while detailing how appalled he was at the failure to support lesser French races.
He spit in the soup, he threw up on their couch, his shit the bed, he refused to clean up after himself.
He was just being Marc Madiot. That’s how he rolls. Ask him a simple question and he starts spewing invective, poetry, race analysis, wine recommendations, etc etc.
We love Madiot because he is all things French. A charming and insightful and irritating guy who looks fantastic with a scarf.
We did three Tours de France and never got to interview Madiot but he is high on our wish list. You can’t go wrong — when Madiot opens his mouth — the quote gems don’t stop. The man is explosive.
A selections from Madiot’s latest outburst:
“When Omega Pharma-QuickStep promises to come with [Mark] Cavendish and he isn’t there, it’s proof that the teams don’t give a damn. One thing interests them: dough.”
“There’s also a form of French bashing. Because something is French, it’s shit. Take Maxime Bouet for example. He’s leaving Ag2r-La Mondiale to go to Lefevere [QuickStep] and he has the impression that he’s signing for Barça.”
On charges to the UCI calendar, Madiot pulled no punches: “That project should be forgotten. From what I know about it, everything will be reviewed. National protectionism should be enacted.”
Like any good Frenchman, Madiot is supremely disgusted that English is the language of choice for director sportifs even when they’re meeting in France for godsakes. “Whether you like it or not, France is the centre of the cycling world,” said Madiot. “So one, you speak French because it’s the official language of the UCI, and two, you come and race on the French circuit.”
Next he’ll be com paining those guys sometimes eat at McDonalds instead of a good French restaurant serving regional cuisine and local wines. Really, is it too much to ask to act French when you’re in France?
The mandatory team time trial at the next year’s Worlds? Madiot doesn’t just think it’s useless, he thinks it’s a colossal waste of money. “I’m scared stiff when I see that I have to hand over €70,000 to go and do a World Championships Team Time Trial next year in the United States. All of that to clown around on the telly for ten seconds! But we’re obliged to go because we’re in the WorldTour.
Clown around? That’s priceless and you can just picture Madiot delivering the line with classic French attitude — the dismissive tone of voice, the shake of the head, shrug of shoulder, the timeless look of disbelieve and existential ennui as he reaches for a cigarette and adjusts his scarf. Gide, Breton, Proust, Sarte, Madiot — it’s just a natural progression.
Playing to form, Madiot decries all that’s fake and artificial in this cycling world. “I’ve been in cycling for 35, 40 years and I’ve realized one thing: anything that’s artificial doesn’t last, even if you put dough behind it,” Madiot said. “China [the Tour of Beijing] is dead. The Leeds Classic [the 1990s World Cup race] is dead. To last, you need to have local roots.”
Of particular interest, Madiot’s willful omission of the small county of the United States of America where they hold the wildly successful Tour of California, Tour of Utah and US Pro Cycling Challenge. Americans — just bad accents when they try to speak French.
The charm of Madiot is that he knows that’s his role and he’s happy to play it too the max. “I’m a provocateur but that’s because I have to sound the alarm,” says Madiot. You can always forgive the French because yes, they’re critical but at least they don’t spare themselves, either. Nobody is exempt from a few pointed remarks.
During the L’Equipe interview he even took French riders to task for not living up to the Madiot code of good conduct. “We’re going to organize a meeting with their union and talk to them about their responsibilities. And their attitude too,” said Madiot. “At the presentation of the Tour, [Marcel] Kittel turned up in a suit. What class! We, the French, looked like nothing.”
In other words, no scarf.