Maxime Grenard, Team Nordic Expérience – Coste & Crédit Agricole Franche-Comté Pro Team Director talks with ProXCskiing and looks back on Season XII and the one to come.
Photo: Magnus Östh/Visma Ski Classics
Gaillard and Deswazière at Marcialonga 2022.
Despite the absence of Lacroix and Jeannerod, who decided last year to end their careers, the French team proved this season that they are still there to play up front. With a top 10 on the overall Pro Team competition and some strong performances from the athletes throughout the winter, we can definitely count on TNE to continue to fight with the bests.
Can you tell us what the highlights of Season XII for Team Nordic Expérience were?
“First, I am delighted with our 10th place in the Pro Team competition! I am also happy with the preparation and all the summer training. We were motivated and wanted to do well in the first races. So we went with big ambitions to Orsa. We did a nice race during the Pro Team Tempo, even if we didn’t manage to create the sensation. Despite that, it was a good start for the Team. The shape was there even if we had to make some small adjustments.”
“We arrived at the first race in January with ‘the knife between our teeth.’ The Pustertaler Ski Marathon was one of the big goals of this winter for us, and maybe we put too much pressure on ourselves. On top of that, we had a few health problems for some athletes. So, these two elements were put together, and this race was a big disappointment for the Team this winter.”
“After that, we managed to get back on track, and it got better and better as the races went on. We had some great team results, including Poirrier in La Venosta Time Trial (11th), Joly in La Diagonela (19th), and Roivas in La Diagonela (8th) and Marcialonga (11th).”
“After the January races, we decided to skip Jizerskà50 and go to La Tansjurassienne, which is very important for our sponsors. We were there to win, and we are really happy with our weekend. In the Saturday race, the boys did a triple. The girls finished 1st and 3rd. On the Sunday race, the girls did a double, and we had places of honor in the boys’ race, despite the absence of Poirrier due to Covid.”
“For Birkebeinerrennet, we had one of the other highlights of the season with Joly’s top 10, confirming his great potential. This placement was very important for the whole Team, and it proved to us that it is possible. We wanted to ride this wave for the end of the season, but we again had sick athletes with Deswazière, Leray, and Combey, who could not compete in some races.”
What’s your overall feeling about Season XII as a Team?
“In the end, we realized that it’s possible to be in front. We’re not that far away, even with our budget. We are lucky to have great sponsors who follow us and who are passionate. In France, cross-country skiing and even more long-distance skiing are small and very confidential. We must work on some small details to be consistent and play upfront throughout the season, not just to shine in a few races as we have done this year. We need some extra help to be better and challenge the biggest Scandinavian teams.”
“Overall, we are satisfied with the season, even if it was irregular. We were able to have a full season without cancellation. The 10th place in the Pro Team competition is a great reward. We want to continue to develop ourselves on the Ski Classics tour.”
Speaking of development, will there be any changes for next year?
“Yes, we will have some changes, especially on the women’s side. We’ll have to make some strategic choices, depending on our budget. But we aim to strengthen the women’s side of the Team. There will be no big changes for the men, and the core will remain the same. The two biggest changes are Poirrier that has chosen to stop his career in Visma Ski Classics, and Joly, who is now the new leader of the Pro Team.”
Do you already have any plans for training camps?
“Not yet; I’m still building the plans. It’s an intense period as we have to take stock of the previous season and, at the same time, think about the one to come. Now we are looking forward to the new calendar to schedule possible training camps in altitude. We’ll be back together in June for a first camp. We also have our traditional training camp in Davos in November. We will be at the Blink, and we hope to be invited to Alliansloppet.”
by CLAIRE MOYSE
Photo: Metod Močnik
Photo: Metod Močnik
Ski-Willy Marathon Team Austria during a training camp in Sportgastein.