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Pierre Rolland (BBox Bouygues Telecom) came close to taking the overall lead.
Lefèvre, Bichot, Sprick and Le Floc'h released
After confirming Europcar as a replacement sponsor for Bbox-Bouygues Telecom over the weekend, manager Jean-René Bernaudeau has set about finalising his line-up for 2011. The Frenchman e-mailed the team dossier to the UCI on Monday, including a list of the 19 riders so far confirmed to ride with the squad next season.
Europcar will be led by French champion Thomas Voeckler, who pulled out of a potential move to Cofidis in order to ensure that the car-hire firm would come on board as team sponsor.
“Without me, the sponsor wouldn’t have signed,” Voeckler told Ouest France. “[Europcar CEO] Philippe Guillemot told me so on the telephone. In giving my agreement, I saved the team and 50 people get to keep their jobs.”
Another rider who will stay at the team is Pierre Rolland, and he may well be the first man to wear the new green and yellow kit, at the French cyclo-cross championships on January 9. Meanwhile the Professional Continental team will debut on the road at the Grand Prix Marseillaise on February 1.
“After all these moments of doubt and uncertainty, it’s good to be able to plan for the future,” Rolland said to Ouest France. “We are all happy to be able to start again and defend the values of the team and of our cycling.
“Beyond the leaders, like Thomas Voeckler and Anthony Charteau, there are young riders like Cyril Gautier and me. The team has lost Pierrick Fédrigo and we have to step up and find the means to compensate for that to ensure that the team shines in 2011.”
Fédrigo left for FDJ along with William Bonnet and Steve Chainel, and Nicolas Vogondy (Cofidis), Johann Tschopp (BMC) and Yuriy Trofimov (Katusha) had also confirmed their departure in recent weeks as the team struggled to find a sponsor.
Meanwhile, Freddy Bichot, Matthieu Sprick, Guillaume Le Floc'h and Laurent Lefèvre have not had their contracts with Bernaudeau’s squad renewed for 2011. The 34-year-old Lefèvre was one of the team's most experienced riders, having turned professional in 1997.
“I’d like to ride another year,” Lefèvre told La Voix des Sports. “But at my age and at this stage in the year, it won’t be easy. I’ll give myself until the end of the week to find something.”
Three neo-professionals will make the step up from the Vendée U amateur set-up, namely Kevin Rezza, Jérôme Cousin and Tony Hurel. It is also understood that one more rider may be added to the roster in the coming weeks.
Europcar team for 2011:
Yukiya Arashiro, Giovanni Bernaudeau, Franck Bouyer, Mathieu Claude, Anthony Charteau, Jérôme Cousin, Damien Gaudin, Cyril Gautier, Yohann Gene, Saïd Haddou, Tony Hurel, Vincent Jérôme, Christophe Kern, Alexandre Pichot, Perrig Quemeneur, Kévin Rezza, Pierre Rolland, Sébastien Turgot, Thomas Voeckler.