Even if a French ProTour team is folding at the end of this year (Crédit Agricole), French cycling will receive a boost of new talent as a new Continental cycling team is being created for 2009. Besson Chaussures-Sojasun, under the management of former French champion Stéphane Heulot, has the ambition of developing talented young riders under the guidance of former top professional riders.
The new team counts 12 riders, with some experienced pros coming down from ProTour or Pro Continental teams - like Cédric Coutouly (Agritubel), Laurent Mangel (Ag2r La Mondiale) or Jimmy Engoulvent and Yannick Talabardon (both Crédit Agricole).
Heulot, who also manages a U23 team, SuperSport 35-ACNC, sees the new squad as a step up for his younger riders - "but not automatically," he told L'Equipe. "The priority will be to include the young amateurs of our club. These last ten years, we have formed six professional riders. But this year, they did not have the level yet."
The team manager thus recruited riders from other national division squads. The other riders are: Cyril Bessy (CR4C Roanne), Jérémie Galland (Auber 93), Fabrice Jeandebosz (Vendée U), Jean-Marc Marino (Crédit Agricole), Romain Mathéou (UC Nantes-Atlantique), Florian Morizot (Auber 93), Julien Simon (Crédit Agricole) and Benoît Sinner (Agritubel).
On a long term, Heulot not only wants to prepare young riders for their lives as pros, but also take the whole Continental team to another level. "The objective is to grow, but not at any price, to become a possible candidate for the Tour de France," the 37-year-old said.