Team Europcar – Preparation for 2011

29 Nov

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The 22 riders and 20 support staff on the new Europcar team have met for the first time in Nantes to begin their preparations for the 2011 season. According to team boss Jean-René Bernaudeau, the gathering was more about administration than anything, but there was some discussion about the new team’s jersey and its program for the early part of the coming season. The team were also set to meet Europcar CEO Philippe Guillemot.

 

Bernaudeau revealed that the team’s first competitive appearance will be at the Tropicale Amissa Bongo in January. In what will soon become their former guise of Bbox Bouygues Telecom, the squad were regular visitors to the stage race in the West African country of Gabon. The team will also return to Malaysia’s Tour de Langkawi.

 

“I’ve had to turn down an extremely attractive invitation [to the Tour of Qatar] because it didn’t seem to me to be practical with a roster of just 22 riders,” Bernaudeau told Ouest France. “We need to keep the group as fresh as possible so that we can get through the whole season OK.”

Bernaudeau also revealed that Japanese rider Yukiya Arashiro, whose form in 2010 established him as one of the new team’s leaders, won’t race for the first two months of the season. “He’s going to be held back for later. He finished the season extremely well at the World Championships,” said Bernaudeau.

 

The French team boss admitted it had been strange to discuss what are sure to be the mainly green colours of the new Europcar jersey after six seasons riding in Bbox’s blue. “There might be one or two changes yet to it. The new sponsor has set out its concept and I’ve had one or two things to say with regard to the spaces that I’ve sold,” explained Bernaudeau. He added that the new jersey will not be revealed until the team’s official launch in Paris on January 14.

 

Colnago are among the sponsors already confirmed for the team. The Italian bike company went into partnership with Bernaudeau’s team at the start of 2010, which turned out to be the most successful season the French outfit has ever enjoyed.

 

As well as doing some preliminary testing of the riders for the blood passport system and seeing each of them individually to discuss the season ahead, the team are also using the Nantes meeting as a bonding session. Their preparation for the 2011 season will intensify when they gather for their first training camp in Valencia, Spain, between December 10-17.

 

“Eight days is not as long as last year but it will be more intensive,” said Bernaudeau. “If all goes well we will go back there in January.”

Bernaudeau also proudly pointed out that all but five of the riders on the new roster had emerged from the ranks of the squad’s Vendée U feeder team. “I want to put more investment into the set-up at Les Essarts. We’ve already done a lot with regard to ergonomics, dietetics. I want to have a system that benefits every aspect of cycling in the Vendée region.”

 

So in 2011, its Au revoir to the turquoise jersey and Bonjour to the new Europcar green jersey 🙂

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