Jean-René Bernaudeau has confirmed Europcar’s interest in signing Thor Hushovd for 2012. The world champion is set to be one of the most highly-sought riders on the transfer market this summer, as his contact with Garmin-Cervélo expires at the end of the season.
“We have approached him and negotiations have been engaged,” Bernaudeau told Eurosport.fr. “He’s a rider who wholly corresponds to our spirit and the ideas that we have about this sport.”
Hushovd turned professional with Credit Agricole in 2000, and he remained with Roger Legeay’s team until it folded in 2008. Bernaudeau believes that Hushovd would be well-suited to a return to French cycling.
“Thor knows our way of operating and our values,” Bernaudeau explained. “He still has excellent memories of France and his time at Credit Agricole.”
While Bernaudeau salvaged his squad’s existence at the eleventh hour last autumn by attracting Europcar to replace Bouygues Telecom as title sponsor, the team missed out on a place in the WorldTour.
Thomas Voeckler’s efforts so far this season will have strengthened the team’s application to be at cycling’s top table in 2012, but the signing of an international name such as Hushovd would bolster their case still further.
Nonetheless, Bernaudeau acknowledged that Europcar would face stiff competition to complete a deal with Hushovd.
“A lot of teams are lining up for him,” Bernaudeau said. “In any case, nothing will be signed before the end of the Tour de France.”