By Bjorn Haake
Cofidis team manager Eric Boyer is ready to tackle a ProTour season that almost didn't materialize for the French team. With the ProTour in limbo, Cofidis decided in June it was content with a Pro Continental license, but reversed its course in September. Boyer talked to Cyclingnews about the team's objectives for 2009.
Boyer explained that there were signs the ProTour wasn't going to be as important anymore. "We thought we could go Continental and just ask the organizers to get invited." But in August they realized that things had changed a bit. "The decision was made by Cofidis and myself. We had a dialogue about the inconveniences and the advantages and in the end we decided we will join the ProTour again."
There are a variety of benefits for the French team. "We decided it is better to stay in the ProTour, as there were certain races we wanted to do, like the Tour of Flanders or the Amstel Gold Race."
Despite losing several key players, including Sylvain Chavanel, Nick Nuyens and Maxime Monfort, the team is ready for the challenges ahead and Boyer named the main objectives. "We would like to win the individual and teams classification in the Coupe de France, stages in Paris-Nice and the Dauphiné Libéré, maybe even the overall classification. Races like Quatre Jours de Dunkerque also are very important to us."
Cofidis does not have someone to contend for the win in the Grand Tours, but at least the French team wants to shine and go for stage wins. Distinct jerseys are also within reach. "Last year we won the mountain jersey in the Vuelta [through David Moncoutié]. Maybe we can do the same, even in the Tour de France. Or the green jersey with Duque or Alexandre Usov."
The foundation is laid with solid financial backing by Cofidis, the French company that distributes loans. During these days of the global financial crisis it could be in the middle of the turmoil. But Boyer is content, saying that "Cofidis is here and allows us to have a good budget for 2009, which means they are doing things right." Boyer doesn't have a crystal ball, either. "Nobody knows what is going to happen in 2009 and everybody hopes the economy will re-start."
But he also emphasizes that there isn't much he can do. "We don't have any other sources of revenue - we solely depend on the sponsors and their decisions."