Ryan Anderson is off to a strong start in his debut season with the French Professional Continental outfit Direct Energie. The Canadian, who is more well-known for his sprinting on the North American circuit in previous years, managed a fifth place at the GP la Marseillaise on Sunday.
“It’s a nice way to start off the year with a new team in Marseillaise,” Anderson told Cyclingnews. “The team is still trying to get a feel for how I race so I think this is a positive start.”
Dries Devenyns (IAM Cycling) and Thibault Pinot (FDJ) finished first and second, respectively in a two-up sprint, while Baptiste Planckaert (Wallonie Bruxelles-Group Protect) took the small group sprint for third ahead of Dimitri Claeys (Wanty-Groupe Gobert) and Anderson.
“This was the first time I have done Marseillaise, and it was a nice race,” Anderson said. “[There are] hard short climbs, which are good for me when I am riding well. Two guys stayed away, and I ran third in the sprint so [it was a] nice way to get things started.”
Anderson spent the previous three season with the US Continental team Optum Pro Cycling, and before that he raced for Professional Continental teams Champion System and Spidertech.
He is relatively unknown on the European circuit, but he was picked up by Direct Energie for his quick finishes that have secured results at USA Pro Challenge, Tour of Alberta, Tour of Elk Grove and White Spot Delta Road Race. Internationally, he has picked up results at Internacional do Guadiana, Volta ao Alentejo and Schaal Sels.
He said he was in contact with Direct Energie’s director Jean-Rene Bernaudeau, during the team’s Europcar-sponsored years, but nothing fully materialized until after the World Championships in Richmond, Virginia. The team has a history of picking up Canadian riders including David Veilleux (retired) and Antoine Duchesne, who is also on the 2016 roster.
“I have been in contact with Jean-Rene over the past few years but this year after Worlds it started to sound like it would work out for me being on the team,” Anderson said. “Antoine put in a good word for me as well which was a big help and David was on the team before so Jean-Rene bringing a Canadian or two into the team is not a new thing.”
Anderson has moved to France where he will make his home base during the 2016 season. He said the biggest change from racing for a North American team to a full season abroad with a French team would be the language.
“I don't speak very good French right now but I'm working on it, and the team staff and riders have been doing a great job of helping me, so things are moving along really well,” he said.
He is looking for opportunities to bring in results for his new team at races like GP la Marseillaise but said he is most looking forward to changing up his traditional punchy-sprinter role. Instead, he wants to help his new teammates like Romain Sicard in the hillier races, Bryan Coquard in the sprints, and Sylvain Chavanel and Thomas Voeckler in the Classics.
Coquard just notched up two stage victories for Direct Energie, the first two wins of the season, at the Etoile de Besseges’ opening stages. Anderson is not on that roster and will instead join his other teammates at a training camp in Mallorca this week before lining up at Tour du Haut Var.