Name: Amaël Moinard
Role: Stage racer and climber
- 2007 (Cofidis): won stage 3 of Route du Sud.
- 2008 (Cofidis): 3rd in stage 4 of Criterium du Dauphine, 14th overall at Tour de France.
- 2009 (Cofidis): 6th in stage 4 of Paris-Nice, 6th in stage 16 at Tour de France, 17th overall at Vuelta a Espana.
- 2010 (Cofidis): Won stage 7 of Paris-Nice and King of the Mountains jersey, 2nd in stage 3 and 7th overall at La Tropicale Amissa Bongo
- 2011 (BMC): 2nd in stage 2 at Tour de France (team time trial)
I’m back in my favourite spot on the VeloVoices sofa, just before the start of Paris-Nice, sipping an espresso and chatting with BMC Racing’s Amaël Moinard – a fellow Cote d’Azur resident – who was an integral part of Cadel Evans’ 2011 Tour de Romandie and Tour de France winning teams.
I’m going to be discussing Amaël’s experiences with BMC and his role in helping Evans win that coveted maillot jaune, lusting after his BMC bike [you’ve already got two of them – Ed], his objectives for 2012 and getting a few all-important tips as to how he maintains his svelte physique.
After six seasons as a professional rider with Cofidis, where Amaël had built a solid palmares – including two top twenty Grand Tour finishes – he signed to ride for BMC Racing Team in mid-2010 for the following two seasons, off the back of his magnificent stage win on the final day of Paris-Nice (beating Thomas Voeckler) and his King of the Mountains jersey.
Sheree: French riders are often criticised for spending their entire careers shuttling around the French teams. This is not something that can be levelled at your door. Perhaps you can explain to us your motivation for the move to BMC, your role on the team and expand on your positive experiences with the team?
Amaël: Well, when I was a student, my dream was to go to a foreign country to study for one or two years. I always like to discover new cultures and languages. So naturally, when I decided to finish with Cofidis, I first looked for a foreign team, and of course, I wanted to try a new experience in a strong team to have a great experience in high-level cycling. And when I met the management of BMC, I directly knew that was a good team for me. Sure it’s different, because now my role is more to help my leaders compared to Cofidis where I had a nice role to race for myself. Anyway, I really like it and am still racing as an offensive rider to try to win some races.
Sheree: I don’t normally covet anything but when I saw you last year on the BMC time trial bike – seriously hard-core bike porn – I wanted to use my superior bodyweight to drag you from the machine and ride off with it. Luckily for you I restrained myself. I love watching team time trials. Ridden well, they’re beautiful to watch. So, explain to us about the art of riding team trials as the team’s second place at Les Essarts in 2011’s Tour de France was important, wasn’t it?
Amaël: Yes, for the team and for our sponsor, it was really important. And clearly, the goal was to win. That’s why we spent a lot of time training all together, on the race circuit in Zolder, Belgium, especially to understand what to do. The aim of the team is to show the power of the BMC bikes, so to be there in second place was a really good spot for them.
Sheree: So, tell me, just out of interest, does anyone on the team ride a size 47 frame?
Amaël: Only one rider, Mauro Santambrogio.
Sheree: I’ve made a note and do warn him he’ll be getting begging letters from me towards the end of the season. Now this is a tale you’re going to be telling again and again, particularly to your grand-children, in years to come. But just walk us through how great it felt to ride up the Champs Elysees with your BMC teammate Cadel Evans, the universally popular winner of the 2011 Tour de France. I seem to recall the whole team wore yellow sunglasses and had mile-high smiles didn’t they?
Amaël: It was a great day for all of us, because since the beginning of last year we all rode with only one goal: to win the Tour de France. So, everybody was dedicated to ride for Cadel and forgot all his personal ambitions. That was our strength. And we achieved it. Yes, it was a big moment for us and everyone will remember it for their entire lives.
Sheree: You started the season at the Volta ao Algarve, finishing 23rd overall having ridden in support, presumably, of Tejay Van Garderen, who finished seventh. What other races will we be able to see you in this year and in which races are you hoping for a good result? I assume you’re still harbouring ambitions of a stage win in the Tour de France?
Amaël: I would really like to be good this week in Paris-Nice. Now, like I said previously, I just want to win any kind of races. So I will go for a stage, then if I am not in the front I can support my leaders, especially when it’s hard. Also, I can bring my experience to Tejay who is focussing on GC. I don’t want to focus on GC for myself because I’ve been disappointed the last couple of years. Anyway, I will be in the Criterium International, Pais Vasco, Ardennes, Dauphine. Of course, I hope to support Cadel another time at the Tour!
I’ll look forward to watching Amaël, and his BMC Racing team mates, in the Tour of the Basque Country, which I’ll be following live and riding some of the parcours.
Sheree: Places on the French squad in an Olympic year will be keenly contested. Do you harbour any Olympic ambitions? What about the World Championships in Valkenburg? I seem to recall you rode for the French Squad at the 2007 World Championships in Stuttgart.
Amaël: About the Olympics, the route doesn’t suit me. So I prefer to keep aiming for a spot at the World Championships. I already did it twice 2007 and 2008. And this year, I would again like to support the national team.
And, finally, Amael has an enviably, and I suspect naturally, slim physique. But, nonetheless, I’m still going to ask him for a few tips.
Sheree: How do you maintain your racing weight? Describe what you eat in a typical day. Are there certain foods you avoid? Does BMC have its own nutritionists and chefs?
Amaël: Weight is always a problem for cyclists. Of course, the skinnier you are, the better you climb. But you still need to eat a lot to have the energy your body needs! We have a chef with BMC, who is really good. [No good submitting your resume Sheree – Ed.] We can ask whatever we want to load ourselves with before and after a race. But we still need to be careful, especially during summertime, to eat meals which are easily digestible for us. And everybody is different. For example, I avoid eating any kind of animal milks and meals with gluten. Just to exclude those things and eat normally allows me to lose weight. Strange, isn’t it?
Sheree: No, it’s not strange, but I suspect burning thousands of calories tearing up the roads helps too!
As Paris-Nice edges closer to the finish and territory that’s very familar to Amaël, we might see him in a breakway. But it’s more likely that he’ll continue to ride in support of his team mate Tejay Van Garderen, who’s wearing the best young rider’s jersey and is lying sixth on GC, having lost a couple of places on yesterday’s stage five finish into Mende. Before today’s stage into Sisteron, Amaël’s lying 62nd overall having lost a packet of time in the wind-induced havoc of stage two. Meaning he’ll be no threat to the leaders if he does have an opportinity to slip away.
Sheree: Finally, Amaël thank you for your time, for sharing with us some precious memories, future ambitions and a few all-important diet tips. Everyone here at VeloVoices wishes you good luck for the rest of the season, and we’ll be keeping a keen eye both on your results and those of BMC. We’d also like to thank Blandine Roquelet of BMC Racing Team for her assistance in facilitating the interview.
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