Lecuisinier a non-starter for Europcar at Tour de Vendée
French Pro Team FDJ.fr will have three road race junior world champions on its roster next year as Olivier Le Gac who won the title in Offida, Italy, in 2010, and Pierre-Henri Lecuisinier who followed him on the record books in Copenhagen, Denmark, in 2011, will join Johan Le Bon, the winner of the rainbow jersey in the U19 category in Cape Town, South Africa, in 2008. The latter extended his contract recently.
While the signature of Le Gac went smoothly as he's been part of the FDJ foundation that helps young athletes from different sports to pursue their study at the same time they embrace a career in sport, the arrival of Lecuisinier came as a surprise to many as he was announced by team manager Jean-René Bernaudeau as a neo-pro for Europcar in 2014 in August. Bernaudeau broke the news on the eve of the Tour de Vendée as he called local newspaper Ouest-France from Caribbean island Guadeloupe, saying: "It's a betrayal. There was a project with him for two years. The way it happened let me down."
Lecuisinier is yet to explain the reasons for his choice to contact FDJ rather than follow a natural path as he was a member of Europcar's feeder team Vendée U but as a consequence he was brutally sent home on Saturday evening instead of riding the Tour de Vendée as a trainee for Europcar whose line-up was reduced to seven starters in defense of Bryan Coquard's leadership in the French cup. Cyclingnews understands that his choice to join FDJ was no news to Bernaudeau who had been informed by Lecuisinier one week ago.
Usually, French teams don't court riders already linked to other French teams. "It was Lecuisinier expressing his wish to join us and we welcome such a talented rider with pleasure", FDJ.fr manager Marc Madiot told Cyclingnews. Both have known each other for a few years already as Lecuisinier won the Madiot Trophy for U17 riders in 2009.
Le Gac who rode the Tour de Vendée as a trainee with FDJ.fr will first complete his studies for being a sport's teacher. His contract as a pro cyclist will begin in July next year.
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