French team focuses on Classics, Tour de France and Vuelta
Professional Continental team Europcar has been struggling for early season race invitations, but is hoping to make up for it come the Classics season at the latest. Team Manager Jean-René Bernaudeau was disappointed not to have been allotted race entry for the Tour of Langkawi, Tour of Qatar and Oman, but is counting on getting wildcards to the Classics in Belgium, the Tour de France and the Vuelta a Espana.
"We are still waiting for the answers to the invitations we have applied for," Bernaudeau told French Eurosport. "It would be hard to obtain invititations even if we were on ProTour level. We received a refusal for the Tour of Oman... It was a disappointment as we needed to do this race."
Europcar is still in limbo even over the very first race the team will line up for in 2012. "At the moment, it should be at the Grand Prix La Marseillaise," he said, hoping to receive more certainty during the first weeks of the new season.
Asked about his overall goals next year, Bernaudeau explained that he had not sought an invitation to the Giro d'Italia but hoped to be welcome at as many Northern Classics as possible. "The Flandrian and Ardennes Classics could be a goal. Thomas Voeckler, Pierre Rolland and Christophe Kern - who already won the 2002 U23 Liège-Bastonne-Liège - like them a lot," he said.
Come the summer, the Grand Tours will be the French team's main focus. "We will try to do a really good Vuelta. Thomas Voeckler gives this race a lot of importance, and also to Tirreno-Adriatico." The Tour de France will of course remain at the heart of Europcar's 2012 season.
"What matters to me," concluded Bernaudeau, "is the riders' general performance during the overall season. All the races are important. For example, I am happy to go to Belgium, but I won't set a particular objective."