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The French Eugénie Duval of the FDJ-Suez-Futuroscope formation embodies the change in women’s cycling in recent years, she who began her career in 2015 when the girls managed as best they could to exercise their passion. The women’s season started in January in Australia.
Eugénie Duval is a bit like the memory of women’s cycling from these last years. She didn’t need to live for centuries to see the transformation of her sport, which evolved at the speed of a TGV. In almost a decade, Eugénie Duval has gone from the small van, where you had to change as best you could in a cramped space, with sometimes the rain and the cold outside, to the “five-star” bus, equipped like boys. Girls are now entitled to maternity leave and the International Cycling Union (UCI) has established a minimum wage in the World Tour, the highest division in the world, which currently includes 14 teams.
Finished the cold pasta dish
« When it’s two degrees, you finish your run cold and you don’t have a decent place to change after several hours of cycling, it’s hard. Today you get on the bus, there is heating and there is a hot dish. It’s luxury “, comments without animosity Eugénie Duval.
No more homemade sandwiches or cold pasta dishes waiting in a Tupperware-type plastic container. Resourcefulness has finally given way to professionalism. At 29, the dean of the French formation FDJ Suez-Futuroscope, by her seniority, therefore knew everything in this team from Vienna, which was called Poitou-Charentes Futuroscope 86 when she arrived in 2015.
« When I started, the goals were the amateur French Cups. From now on, we run the World Tour calendar, with the Classics like Liège-Bastogne-Liège and the Grand Toursenthuses Eugénie Duval. During my first races, we arrived with one assistant for six athletes. Now, we travel with three assistants, a physiotherapist, an osteopath, everything has evolved. And the evolution will continue after me. It seems to me that the machine is well launched. »
« We feel more respected »
However, his generation had absolutely no idea of making a living from cycling. Eugénie Duval, who has been cycling since the age of six, arrived at the right time and is enjoying it. In her eyes, the regret that the older girls she met in her early days did not have the chance to experience this new golden age. ” It’s not the same bike anymore. she lets go. We feel more respected. Now, we don’t come to a race and feel happy when we finish. Now we come to win ».
In 2022, the FDJ-Suez-Futuroscope experienced the most prolific season in its history with 17 victories (8 in the World Tour). The team has notably won two classics: the Amstel Gold Race and the Flèche wallonne. Of a workforce of fourteen runners, eight raised their arms. High point of the season, the stage victory of Cecilie Uttrup Ludwig on the Women’s Tour de France revived.
« Yes, at the beginning we were smaller than the French amateur men’s teams. Eugénie Duval had to be patient and tenacioussays team manager Stephen Delcourt. Each year she discovered the improvements to bridge the gap between men’s and women’s cycling. Today, we are structured, sometimes better than in men’s teams, but we are not in the comparison, we want to write our own history. The girls have good salaries, a serious structure, and Eugénie (Duval) deserves it “. The French formation FDJ Suez now has about 40 employees, and operates like a real SME. In 2023, the team’s budget should be around 3 million euros.
Eugénie Duval also benefited from the experience of her brother, Julien, a professional from 2012 to 2021. He supported me a lot. It’s a sport where you go through ups and downs, and he understood me. It was a plus for me “, admits the one who dreams of participating in the Women’s Tour de France 2023. « We’ve waited so long for this race, now that it’s here, I’d like to participate concludes the one who is delighted with the new media coverage of women’s cycling.