Although the precise nature of the role is yet to be finalised, former Sojasun manager Stéphane Heulot has confirmed that he will work with Cannondale Pro Cycling in 2014.
The Sojasun team disbanded at the end of last season when it failed to secure an additional sponsor to guarantee its budget for 2014. In December it was reported that Heulot and rider Jean-Marc Marino would join Cannondale for the coming season, with Sojasun a possible sub-sponsor of the team.
At the team’s presentation in Los Angeles this week, Cannondale Bicycles general manager Bob Burbank told Cyclingnews that he was in talks with Sojasun over sponsorship for 2014. Heulot explained why Sojasun, a producer of soya-based foods, was keen to enter into a partnership with Cannondale.
“First of all, there is the sponsor Sojasun, which is signing on with Cannondale to put in place a nutritional plan of interest to the pro team, but which is also consistent with American problems of combating obesity and encouraging participation in sport. I was happy to put the two parties in contact,” Heulot told L’Équipe.
Although the Sojasun Pro Continental team is no more, its Brittany-based under 23 team will continue in 2014, with Cannondale coming on board as bike supplier. The team will become something of a feeder squad for Cannondale Pro Cycling. “Cannondale is going to become the technical supplier of the development centre, and there will of course be a tight relationship with the pro team,” Heulot said.
One of Heulot’s initial functions will be to aid in the identification and development of young talent, building on the structures already implemented during his time with Sojasun. “I’ve found some people who are very open to all ideas, and I’m there to pass on a certain experience, which I’ve gained over the years, in particular in relation to development and scouting,” he said. “We’re going to try and expand to system we have in place in the west of France.”
Heulot stressed, however, that he would not be a directeur sportif at Cannondale, nor does he have any ambitions to become team manager. “I met Roberto Amadio and told him straightaway that I wasn’t there to take his place,” he said.
“I’ll be paid by the team and my role will evolve. I have a lot of ideas that I haven’t been able to put into practice [up to now], due to a lack of time or means. Initially, I’ll get to know the team and the riders. I’ll listen out for what they want to put in place.”