Breton team aims for Tour de France start
The Continental team Bretagne-Schuller has announced its decision to ask the UCI for a promotion to the Pro Continental division for next year at a press conference held on Monday in Lorient.
Jean-Yves Le Drian, the president of the Bretagne region (Brittany), and sponsor Michel Schuller, who owns a car dealership network, have announced their commitment for another two years. "Taking into account the new organisation of professional cycling, we apply for the second division," said the team president Joël Blévin.
"It's up to the UCI to decide but there's no reason why we wouldn't be accepted," Blévin said. "The budget isn't a problem. This year we have 15 professional cyclists. To be a Pro Continental team, we need 16 of them, it won't make a huge difference."
Bretagne-Schuller has already recruited Guillaume Blot from Cofidis for the next two years. They have also extended the contracts of Romain Hardy, Laurent Pichon and current French cup leader Florian Vachon for another two years. 2008 junior world champion Johan Le Bon, who recently won the Kreizh Breizh Elite and finished third overall at Paris-Corrèze last week, is still contracted with the Breton squad for next year.
"We are inspired by what Euskaltel is doing in the Basque country," Blévin said. "It's no shame copying what's working elsewhere. Brittany is also a strong region of cycling in Europe. There have been some highs and lows in Breton cycling, but we're obviously back to the highs nowadays. We want to give a future and priority to the promising Breton riders. Olivier Le Gac's win at the junior world championship yesterday is fabulous. I've met him recently at the Breton championship. He's still very young. Let's give him time to mature."
Bretagne-Schuller's promotion to the Pro Continental ranks means the team will be eligible for the 2011 Tour de France. Le Drian said, "If the organisers invite us, we'll be present for sure." It was already in the air when the 2008 Tour de France started from Brest with the financial support of the region of Brittany but the team was still lacking experience. Next year's Tour is set to start in the nearby province of Vendée, also on the Atlantic coast, and there is a high probability of the race to proceed in Brittany for four days.