Crédit Agricole's riders who competed in last weekend's Paris-Tours have celebrated the squad's last race with champagne, but not on the podium. Sebastian Hinault told L'Equipe that Roger Legeay and his men had a glass of bubbly in the team bus following the finish in Tours.
"I took it as the final race of the season rather than as a last course of a team," Hinault explained. "We spoke about it in the briefing and just tried to have fun." The team's best finisher was Mark Renshaw, who took 13th, while Hinault finished in 54th.
The 34-year-old Frenchman has spent his entire career under Roger Legeay's leadership - first with GAN and now Crédit Agricole. He has found another team for 2009 with a ride at AG2R. He'll join current team-mate Nicolas Roche there after the young Frenchman also signed with squad.
Hinault said that after the Tour de France, he, "Experienced two feelings: having to find another team while hoping that the team [Crédit Agricole] found a sponsor. It is a difficult situation." He said that he consulted Legeay and team management as he was deciding on which squad he would move too when it became clear that his current team was not going to be functioning next year.
Hinault's win in stage 10 of the Vuelta a España cemented his prospects with AG2R, as he explained. "My stage victory in the Vuelta was a clincher. I didn't think that when I won but then I thought, 'Naturally, you're safe'". He also outlined that the lineup of his new team may give him enhanced chances at riding for more victories. "I think I have a little more freedom to play my card at the finish [of races]. Until now, I spent part of my season [working] for Thor Hushovd. At AG2R, there's no real great sprinter."
The same surety cannot be guaranteed for all of Crédit Agricole's riders, however. "It is encouraging and frustrating at times... I know Patrice Halgand has not yet found a team," said Hinault. "I have not seen since its abandonment on the Tour."