ALTEA, Spain (VN) — In October, Canadian veteran François Parisien was without a team. This spring, he makes his WorldTour debut after a late lifeline from the up-and-coming Argos-Shimano squad.
The 29-year-old from Montréal made his professional debut in 2006 with Slipstream-Chipotle after winning the Canadian national road race title in 2005. Parisien spent the last three seasons at Spidertech-C10, winning the overall at the 2012 Tour of Elk Grove.
Parisien had reached a verbal agreement with Spidertech for 2013, but had to find a new place when Steve Bauer decided that the team would take a year off in an effort to retool for 2014. The team plans to come back next season and will try for a WorldTour license, but the move left Parisien, along with every one of his teammates, in a lurch. Spidertech was willing to pay his salary, but he needed a team that could offer him race days so late in the signing period. Ultimately, however, the shuttering led the Quebecois rider up to the WorldTour with Argos-Shimano and he hopes to stay there.
He made his debut with the Dutch squad at the French GP Marseillaise one-day and Etoile de Bessèges stage race in late January after sitting down with VeloNews at a training camp in Altea, Spain.
Velonews: When did you hear Spidertech-C10 was not going to ride in 2013?
François Parisien: I think it was October 14th that Steve Bauer called me. Everyone in the team, including me, were quite confident about the future. Earlier on in the year there was talk of a big sponsor for three years but then things slowed down a bit. But Steve kept telling us we would have a team for at least another year. I had already reached a verbal agreement with Steve, which Spidertech will honor. I am really happy about that. They’ll pay my salary for 2013 and they have also become an official supplier to team Argos-Shimano.
VN: It was very late in the transfer season. That must have been quite a blow?
FP: It was, especially because we all thought we would be racing together in 2013. After the news sunk in, finding a team for 2013 was my first priority. Step two was to find a well-established Pro Continental team that would enable me to race in Europe. [smiles] That worked out alright.
VN: How did you end up with Argos-Shimano?
FP: They came to me! I was injured for a long time, didn’t race until June 2012. After that I had some good results and I think Argos-Shimano noticed. But to be honest, I really have no idea how they came across me. Maybe they have been keeping an eye on me for a while and when they heard I was available they called me. That is a big compliment to me personally. They wanted me. Spidertech tried to find teams for all its riders but in my case that didn’t really work out. In the end Argos-Shimano came to me because they have confidence in me.
VN: Have you been keeping track of where the other Spidertech riders went?
FP: “Only a few ended up in the WorldTour like Hugo Houle at Ag2r La Mondiale and Guillaume Boivin at Cannondale. David Boily was supposed to go there too, but I think they couldn’t agree on the terms. The others found a new place on the Pro Continental and Continental level. [American Timmy Duggan, a new signee for 2013, transferred to Saxo-Tinkoff.] The big difference between me and guys like Houle and Boivin is that they are young. I am almost 30 years old. It’s actually a dream come true. I have wanted to try my luck at this level and now Argos-Shimano is giving me this opportunity to ride in the WorldTour.
VN: What’s your first impression of Argos-Shimano?
FP: Structure. The team is very structured, very well organized. In smaller teams you are more on your own because there isn’t as much staff surrounding the riders. I’ll give you an anecdote. When I arrived here a few days ago, I had only one set of team kit with me, the only one they had sent me. After the first training I asked for some laundry detergent to wash my clothes in the sink, like I always did. But they said I could just put my clothes in a laundry bag, put it outside the hotel room door and I would have it back the next day. That is a big difference.
VN: What do you know about the team and its riders?
FP: I already know Tom Peterson quite well. We have been riding together with Slipstream in the past. He also lives in Girona, so we can train together, plus I will be riding the first races of the season with him. We arrived in Altea on the same day and suffer from the same jetlag.
VN: What will your season look like?
FP: My first race will be the GP Marseillaise in France. Then comes Etoile de Bessèges. After those two races I’ll go back to Altea for a training camp. Clasíca Almería is also on the roster. It’s still unsure what I’ll ride after that. I would like to focus on the one-day races and the smaller stage races. The Ardennes classics like Liège-Bastogne-Liège and the Amstel Gold Race are high on my wish list. The world championships course in Valkenburg really suited me . I was unlucky to be involved in the big pile-up where I broke my bike. The Canadian team car was number 22, so it took a very long time before I could get a spare bike, but I still finished the race.
VN: Are you ready for riding on WorldTour level?
FP: I am ready for the longer distances with which younger guys usually have a bit more trouble. I already know my body is adjusted to 200- or 220-kilometer races, but I am looking forward to the consistency. In the past few years I rode a lot of smaller races and then a big one once in a while. Riding longer races will be much more consistent now I am in the WorldTour. My biggest dream is to ride the Tour de France one day, like any pro cyclist. I hope I’ll get to do one of the grand tours this year, but that’s still undecided.
VN: You are almost 30 years old. What do you think you will learn in 2013?
FP: To wait. I am a punchy rider, aggressive on the bike. I like to be in the race, but not suffer the race. I used to be in the breakaways all the time because the team asked me that. That was my role. Now I have to learn to keep quiet. Last year with Spidertech I already learned not to burn all my matches at the start of the race, but to keep them until the final. Maybe it’s old to learn this kind of stuff, but I am actually quite stubborn.
VN: You signed up for one year with Argos-Shimano. Will you return to Spidertech?
FP: I certainly hope the team restarts. It’s great for Canadian cycling, especially for the younger generation. They can get that all-important experience in Europe. I will have to decide whether I go back when that decision arises. It depends on the terms of course. If the team won’t be in the WorldTour and I can stay with a WorldTour team, I won’t go back to Spidertech. I’ll stay in the WorldTour then. I am already really happy Spidertech is with me on this team. They pay my salary, sponsor Argos-Shimano, but I really wish Team Spidertech the best for the future.