I’ve been chasing Cote d’Azur based 26-year-old Rudy Molard for an interview for almost three years. It was only when we spoke at length that I realised he’d not been playing hard to get. He’s shy, very modest and simply couldn’t understand why we might be interested in learning more about him! One of the many reasons we love cyclists.
Sheree: Why don’t we start at the beginning, when did you start riding?
Rudy: My father rode as an amateur, I used to go and watch him race at the week-ends and I wanted to do the same thing. I got my first racing bike when I was 12. I didn’t ride competitively, just for pleasure with my father. My first race was as a minimes (under 16) but I didn’t win anything until I was a cadet (under 18). Once I started racing, I wanted to be a pro, nothing else.
Sheree: Aside from you father, which riders inspired you when you were younger?
Rudy: I really like Valverde. I also followed the Armstrong v Ullrich duels at the Tour, even though at that time there wasn’t much suspense. But really I liked Valverde and Rebellin.
Sheree: Of course, the two of them have won a lot of races and are still riding competitively. Rebellin’s pretty amazing for his age?
Rudy: I was at Isola2000 in May for a training camp to prepare for the Dauphiné and, maybe, the Tour, and he was there. We rode together and I gained the impression that he’s as motivated as ever. He gives everything 100%. For example, when he takes energy bars out of his pockets, it’s ones he’s made himself at home. He regularly goes on six-hour training rides. He’s still really passionate about cycling.
Sheree: Did you do any other sports when you were younger?
Rudy: I used to ski a lot at school and I have my alpine ski instructor’s qualification. I also did a bit of cross country skiing and I still do that every year in the off-season. I also did a bit of snow-triathlon; I was world champion as a junior (2008). It’s something I enjoy and got into it when I was at school in Barcelonnette and couldn’t ride my racing bike in the winter because of the weather.
Sheree: How did you progress into the professional ranks?
Rudy: I was at CR4CRoanne in the Loire for 3 years, then CC Etupes at Montbeliard in 2011 and joined Cofidis in late 2011 as a stagiare before turning pro with them in 2012.
Sheree: That was achieved off the back of some excellent results, plenty of top fives and tens in some quality races.
I notice you’ve recently been successfully deployed as part of Nacer Bouhani‘s train, particularly in the Dauphiné, but you’re not a sprinter?
Rudy: It’s true, I’m not but I have to follow team orders and as a Pro Conti team we don’t have the same calendar as a WorldTour team even though, because of Cofidis’ sponsorship of certain events, we get invited to the Tour, the Vuelta, Milan Sanremo and Liege-Bastogne-Liege. Nacer tends to be used in the bigger races and we do the rest. We don’t have too many opportunities and it’s complicated for many of us. Of course that’s natural for a team which has spent such a large sum on just one rider.
Sheree: Which is your favourite race?
Rudy: Liege-Bastogne-Liege is my dream race because it’s the oldest one, it suits my capabilities and it has an interesting history with plenty of duels between leading riders. My best placing was 16th in 2014, which isn’t bad for a support rider, but I’d really like just the once to get into the top ten.
Rudy’s being modest; he’s enjoyed a number of top 20 placings in the Ardennes Classics.
Sheree: You prefer one-day races to stage races?
Rudy: Yes, I adore the Classics: the Ardennes, Milan Sanremo and il Lombardia. I have more adrenaline for a classic race than for a stage race or grand tour. You can prepare and give 100% rather than meting your efforts out over a number of days.
Sheree: Are there any events you’ve never raced but would like to?
Rudy: Milan Sanremo and Amstel Gold. We were invited to the first one but that was for Nacer. But at least we have the opportunity to do two grand tours even if we must miss a few of the major races.
It’s recently been officially announced that Rudy will ride the next two years at FDJ alongside Thibaut Pinot where he’ll benefit from a wider range of races, including his beloved Classics, guidance from trainers Julian Pinot and Fred Grappé and direction from Marc Madiot.
Sheree: What’s next on the agenda?
Rudy: After the Clasica San Sebastian, I’m doing a training camp at altitude and then it’s Tour de l’Ain, the Vuelta and hopefully Il Lombardia. That’s ideal because I didn’t do a grand tour at all last year and I miss taking part in a three week race.
Sheree: You moved to the Cote d’Azur in September 2011. Do you find it a good place to train?
Rudy: Yes, but when I moved here, there were four Cofidis riders living here and now I’m the only one.
It’s a superb place to train, close to the airport and with plenty of other riders living here there’s always someone to train with in the winter months, the weather, the roads in the Niçois hinterland…I don’t know of a better place in the whole of France.
Sheree: I know you’re fond of travelling in the off-season.
Rudy: Yes, we go on holiday for a month in October/November. My partner Manon never comes with me when I’m racing. In the past two years, we’ve visited Japan and Sri Lanka. This year we’re once more thinking of Asia, Indonesia, Philippines or Vietnam, where we find the locals very welcoming and the culture very different.
Sheree: How do you maintain your racing weight?
Rudy: I don’t pay too much attention to it in the winter months but I never put on too much weight. At the start of May, I begin to pay more attention to fat and sugar though nothing too extreme. I like my food but, in those races where I need to do my best, it’s important that I’m not carrying any extra weight so I take more care. I avoid baked goodies and cheese; the latter, particularly when the weather’s hot. Otherwise, I pretty much eat everything.
Sheree: When I interviewed Stephane Rossetto, he said you’d been particularly helpful to him. Do you enjoy lending a hand with the younger riders, such as the stagiares at Cofidis?
Rudy: Of course, I still remember when I joined the team, Samuel Dumoulin and Leonardo Duque gave me plenty of good advice. In my first year as a pro, Tristan Valentin, who lived close by, was also very helpful. I enjoy chatting to the youngsters, listening to their objectives and offering some guidance. Not everybody listens, but it doesn’t matter.
True to his regime, Rudy showed great restraint and only ate a small finger of chocolate cake with his tea.
Thanks for your time Rudy, good luck in the forthcoming races and next season with FDJ.
Header image: Rudy Molard at Vuelta al Pais Vasco 2016 © Richard Whatley