Direct Energie will join the peloton in 2016, replacing the departing Europcar as sponsor of the French team. Jean-Rene Bernaudeau announced his new sponsor at a press conference Tuesday afternoon.
The team will feature such French riders in 2016 as Thomas Voeckler, Bryan Coquard and Romain Sicard. The green jerseys will be replaced by yellow ones. They also confirmed for the first time that Sylvain Chavanel would ride with the team.
The team is currently at the Professional Continental level, but Bernaudeau said that he is aiming at re-joining the WorldTour. The team is expected to have 20 riders in the coming season. Neither the length of the sponsorship contract nor the budget were announced.
"I chose Direct Energie because I wanted a partner that would be seduced by the long-lasting work I led for the training of riders. I am convinced that Direct Energy Cycling team will surprise and bring good vibes to the peloton thanks to its 'panache' and fighting spirit," Bernaudeau said.
Xavier Caïtucoli, Direct Energie's CEO, said "This is a real pride for Direct Energie and its staff to become sponsor of this team benefiting from popular support in France. Choosing pro cycling is natural to us as we share common values such as proximity, enthusiasm and taste for effort. And we are both challengers."
The team was established in 2000, and has gone through a variety of sponsors, with Europcar taking over in 2011. Europcar announced last year that it would end its sponsorship in 2015 but late this summer, it became a race against time for Bernaudeau to find and announce the replacement. Key rider Pierre Rolland departed the team last month as he joined the Cannondale-Garmin team while Cyril Gautier has moved to Ag2r-La Mondiale.
Direct Energie is the third-largest electricity and gas provider in France, “serving 1.5 million customers in France and Belgium." In 2014, it had a "turnover in excess of €810 million."
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