Former pro Jerome Pineau will set up a new French team as of the coming season, with the goal of moving up to the WorldTour within three years, he has told L'Equipe. The team's star is expected to be sprinter Bryan Coquard, who has already said he will leave Direct Energie.
"We will start for a three-year period, first of all in Professional Continental, with the objective of accessing the World Tour, if it still exists, during this period," Pineau said. Papers have already been submitted to the UCI, and he expects to sign up to 20 riders for 2017.
Contracts cannot be signed or announced until August 1, but the names Matteo Trentin (Quick-Step), Amaël Moinard (BMC), Johan Le Bon (FDJ) and Julien Morice (Direct Energie) have been rumoured.
But it is Coquard who is expected to lead the team. "The launch of the team depended on the arrival of Coquard," a source told L'Equipe.
Coquard, 25, told his Direct Energie Team in May that he would leave the team and not renew his contract at the end of this season. This led to tensions with team manager Jean Bernaudeau, who left his sprinter off the Tour de France squad. Bernaudeau claimed that while Couqard had a good early season, "but it's been several weeks now that he has done nothing."
Pineau said his budget would be "between five and eight million Euro," with sources saying it could be actually around 10 million. While the emphasis will be on French riders, other nationalities will also be signed.
The main sponsor will be the French company Vital Concept, which previously co-sponsored Fortuneo-Oscaro, pulling out of that team just before the Tour de France.
The supplier of agricultural products has apparently been negotiating with Pineau for several months. "We never responded to the rumors because we wanted to present a successful project," he said.