Europcar manager Jean-René Bernaudeau has said that his team will recruit more riders if it succeeds in securing WorldTour status in 2012. Ranked 20th in the UCI’s ranking of the applicants released on Tuesday, Europcar must wait until at least November 20 to learn if it will be included in cycling’s top division next season.
Europcar will now compete with Geox-TMC, FDJ, Euskaltel-Euskadi and Ag2r-La Mondiale for one of the three final berths in the 18-team WorldTour, although Geox’s financial woes would appear to rule the team out of the running.
“We’ve put in our application. We’re hopeful, but we’ve continued in our way of acting, so we’ll see,” Bernaudeau told a webchat on Eurosport.fr on Tuesday morning. “Given the problems that certain other teams have, our reliability could pay off.”
Bernaudeau acknowledged that he would need to reinforce his roster should Europcar’s application be successful.
“[We would need] endurance riders, people for stage races. The WorldTour means riding three grand Tours, so you need solid riders,” Bernaudeau admitted. “If we’re 20th, 19th or 18th in the WorldTour ranking, it doesn’t matter. We have confidence in the UCI. The important thing is that the team progresses.”
At the tail end of the 2011 season, Bernaudeau also attempted to bolster his classics squad and was in negotiations with Filippo Pozzato, but the Italian ultimately opted to join Luca Scinto’s Farnese-Neri team.
“We weren’t able to get him because it’s difficult to have three-way negotiations between the rider, the manager and the agent,” Bernaudeau noted. “The French tax system is a handicap. Cycling isn’t just about money, it’s about following through on your ideas. We want riders who want to come to us. Desire is more important than money.”
Regardless of whether a WorldTour licence is forthcoming, Europcar are all but certain of a place at the 2012 Tour de France in the wake of Thomas Voeckler and Pierre Rolland’s impressive performances this year. Bernaudeau hinted that Rolland will lead the team’s overall challenge next July, while Voeckler will be have the liberty to go on the attack.
“Pierre has ambitions in the general classification,” Bernaudeau said. “He did a good time trial in Grenoble [in 2011] and we’re working on some more specific material for the time trial. Thomas will be on the Tour in a free role.
“Their ambitions can’t come into conflict and they appreciate that. I’ve built something with sincerity between them.”
Bernaudeau also revealed that Europcar’s first gathering of the winter will take place in Guadeloupe in November. “We’re going to ride in Guadalope on Yohann Gène’s roads to thank him for his exceptional work for Thomas Voeckler during the Tour,” he said.