The UCI women's trade team Les Pruneaux d'Agen presented its 2006 lineup this past weekend in the southern french town of Castillones, home of Jean Théodore Joyeux, who inspired the creation of the Tour de France by his solo record in 1895 of 5,500 kilometres around the perimeter of France in 19 days. He rode an average of 290 km per day on a single speed bike weighing around 23 kilos (50 pounds).
Les Pruneaux d'Agen will be lead by Alexandra Le Henaff and Elisabeth Chevanne Brunel of France and Tamara Boyd and Toni Bradshaw of New Zealand. Le Henaff was a very close second to Magali Le Floc'h (now with T-Mobile) in the 2005 French Cup series, and should have been on the podium of the Tour of Flanders except for an error by a commissaire misdirecting her breakaway group only 400 meters from the finish. Chevanne Brunel, a former world junior champion who finished 9th in the Tour of Flanders, is highly motivated for the season's first category stage races.
Boyd won several races in France in 2005 including the Ladies Berry Classic and the Tour de Charante. Recently she won the New Zealand points race championship. Bradshaw also had an excellent 2005 in France with two podiums and recently won a bronze medal in the Oceania Games.
The team is rounded out by a very strong backup crew including Corrine Overney of Switzerland and young french stars Vickie Fournial, Nathalie Mousques, Nadia Theuil, Angélique Saldana, Stephanie Denuit and Céline Nivet. Veterans Sylvie Riedlé, Sylvie Fragnières and Muriel Rideau will provide solid backup in the gruelling first category stage races in Europe.
The race program, led by Nicolas Coudray of Switzerland and Manager/Director Sportif Chris Georgas of Canada, will be focused on the World Cups and first category stage races. Boyd and Bradshaw will be doing the world cups in New Zealand and Australia later in February as part of their national team, while the others will begin with Het Volk in early March, followed by The Tour of Flanders world cup, the Novilon Drenthe Tour, and the Fleche Wallonne world cup.
After participating in the Commonwealth Games Boyd and Bradshaw will join the team in Europe for the Tour of Berne world cup, the Castilla Leon world cup and one of the main objectives of the year - the 10 day Tour de l'Aude, shortly after which the team will fly to Canada for the Montreal world cup.
Rounding out the staff is advisor to Chris Georgas, Rinus Verboom - former national women's coach of the USA and Holland, and manager of several UCI women's trade teams in the recent past. The team's main training camp will be held in February at the European base of the New Zealand national team in the southern french town of Limoux.