By Hedwig Kröner
French team Cofidis will celebrate its 11th anniversary in the pro ranks this year: the team formerly directed by Cyrille Guimard started out in 1997. For this year, the team's management decided to radically change the squad's outfit and made it public during the team's presentation in Paris on Thursday, January 25.
The new jersey will be predominantly red in front, and red/white in the back, which will make Cofidis' riders easily recognisable as these colours had disappeared from the peloton since Brioches La Boulangère became Bouygues, and Saeco turned into Lampre. And the new look is not the only change within the team, which is now directed by Eric Boyer:
For 2007, the roster has been modified in view of the Spring Classics, with one name immediately sticking out of the list of 30 riders: Nick Nuyens. The Belgian, who won Het Volk in 2005 and Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne last season, will be able to lead the team at these races, assisted by Frank Hoj and the young guns Kevin De Weert and Sébastien Minard. Last but not least, Maxime Monfort and Rik Verbrugghe will also be targeting the Ardennes Classics, with the latter also chosen to peak at the Tour de France.
"Last year it was all reconstruction," said Boyer, who was hired after the team was shattered by several doping cases. "This year, we're entering a new phase. We have greater objectives, more difficult to obtain."
The two captains of the team will nevertheless remain the same: Sylvain Chavanel and David Moncoutié. While Chavanel is still only just breaking through on an international level, climber Moncoutié is hoping to repeat his accomplishments and leave his bad luck of 2006 behind. The 32 year-old injured the a tendon in his right leg at the 2006 Dauphiné Libéré, and tried to come back too early after that, which resulted in a chronic tendonitis, preventing him from racing since last August.
"I didn't touch the bike for three months," explained Moncoutié to L'Equipe. "I started to softly train again in late October, but only to turn the legs. I couldn't force it, as it hurt right away. In December, I started to feel better. At the moment, I only think about my comeback. I want to get all of my potential back, I'm more motivated than ever. But if ever I continue to have inflammations throughout the year, it will be my last season as a pro."
That is something Boyer is certainly not hoping for. "We've preselected about 15 riders for the Tour de France," he said. "Last year, we won a stage, but we could have won four or five." Swiss rider Steve Zampieri and French newcomer Maryan Hary will be targeting the Giro d'Italia for the team, which will also count on English-speaking pros such as Tyler Farrar, Chris Sutton and Bradley Wiggins.
Stéphane Augé (Fra), Frédéric Bessy (Fra), Mickaël Buffaz (Fra, Agritubel), Sylvain Chavanel (Fra), Kevin De Weert (Bel, Quick Step-Innergetic), Hervé Duclos-Lassalle (Fra), Leonardo Duque (Col), Michiel Elijzen (Ned), Tyler Farrar (USA), Bingen Fernandez (Esp), Nicolas Hartmann (Fra, Elite 2), Maryan Hary (Fra, Bouygues Telecom), Mathieu Heijboer (Ned), Frank Hoj (Dan, Gerolsteiner), Yann Huguet (Fra, Elite 2), Geoffroy Lequatre (Fra), Sébastien Minard (Fra), Amaël Moinard (Fra), David Moncoutié (Fra), Maxime Monfort (Bel), Damien Monier (Fra), Cristian Moreni (Ita), Nick Nuyens (Bel, Quick Step-Innergetic), Ivan Parra (Col), Staf Scheirlinckx (Bel), Christopher Sutton (Aus), Tristan Valentin (Fra), Rik Verbrugghe (Bel), Bradley Wiggins (Gbr) and Steve Zampieri (Sui, Phonak Hearing Systems).
Also see: Cofidis on Cyclingnews' teams database