Despite winning 26 races in 2013 Europcar’s René Bernaudeau has set his sights on even more success next season.
“I want more riders to be able to win. This year we had 12 winners in the team. Next year I hope for even more.”
“The expectations were high for this year’s Tour, especially after the last two incredible years,” Bernaudeau said on the team’s website. In 2011 Thomas Voeckler wore the yellow jersey for ten days and finished fourth overall. Pierre Rolland won the stage to Alpe d’Huez. In 2012 Europcar won three stages, two for Voeckler and one for Pierre Rolland. Voeckler brought home the polka dot jersey to Paris as well.
“We knew this year would be hard and eventually we were left without a win in the Tour. There were two teams controlling everything [Sky and Saxo-Tinkoff] and breakaways were doomed. It would have been great if Pierre Rolland took the polka dot jersey to Paris. But I can’t judge on the Tour only.”
Overall the team had a good season with 26 victories with stage wins in the Criterium du Dauphiné for David Veilleux and Thomas Voeckler and Damien Gaudin’s prologue victory in Paris-Nice as the highlights.
“I only have one regret for this year,” Bernaudeau said. “Thomas Voeckler deserved to finish the season on a high in Il Lombardia. When he attacked he had to do it all by himself. If there were another rider to have followed him, they would have made it to the finish together.”
The French team also had a negative episode when it was temporarily suspended from the MPCC, the Movement For Credible Cycling. In the Criterium du Dauphiné they let Pierre Rolland start the stage despite a suspicious cortisol level in his blood for which, according the MPCC rules, the team should have taken him out of the race. The team was suspended but could start the Tour de France a few weeks later.
Europcar has its own feeder team to detect and train talent: Vendée U. Bryan Coquard, the team's most successful rider of the season, Thomas Voeckler and Damien Gaudin come from the team based in the western coastal region of France.
“Our model where we combine education and cycling works. Because the guys know each other from Vendée U [over half of the 2014 team rode for Vendée U in the past] we create an atmosphere of friendship. That is really the difference we make. “
Jimmy Engoulvent and Fabrice Jeandesboz were recruited from Sojasun. Both riders originate from Vendée U. “We also signed Yannick Martinez [from La Pomme Marseille] and Romain Sicard [from Euskaltel]. They are very promising riders. We now have 25 riders who will wear the Europcar team kit next year. Antoine Duchesne will join us if we secure the World Tour license.”
Europcar applied for a World Tour license for 2014 despite having said previously they didn’t want to. With Harmonie Mutuelle onboard as a new co-sponsor and Europcar secured for another two years, Bernadeau keeps the same objectives for 2014 but hopes for a bit more.
“Of course we want to win races but we also want even more riders to be able to raise their arms at the finish line. This year we had 12 different winners. And I hope that Natnael Berhane, Kevin Réza or Yohann Gêne get to win a big race. I want to fight the racism that still exists on the bike. From the bottom of my heart I hope they win a great race because racism in the peloton is one of my personal fights," Bernaudeau concluded.