2009 SUMMARY: In similar fashion to Ag2r, Bbox secured their sponsors’ gratitude with a storming performance at the Tour. Stage wins for Thomas Voeckler and Pierrick Fédrigo garnered all the headlines they needed for the season. In fact, after Fédrigo’s win – their 13th of the year – the team’s riders didn’t appear on another podium. Other important wins came earlier in the season, with victories at the Dauphiné, Tour of the Basque Country and a number of key French races. A nod too to William Bonnet, who got close to winning close at the Vuelta twice.
LOOKING AHEAD: Both Fédrigo, who almost slipped away to Saxo Bank in the winter, and Voeckler played their parts as leaders last season. Bernaudeau will be hoping they can deliver again as he searches for a new backer to replace Bbox before the end of 2010.
He’s also been talking up Pierre Rolland. Bernaudeau says he’s a future top 10 finisher at the Tour, but we’re not certain that’ll come to pass this year.
THE LINE-UP: Bernaudeau’s had a mini shuffle of his pack and turned up three decent home riders – Freddy Bichot, Anthony Charteau and Nicolas Vogondy. The latter is a two-time French champion who’s won regularly during his 14-year pro career, while Charteau should enjoy the greater freedom he’s sure to receive on his return to the team he left in 2005.
One to watch
Pierre Rolland may not be a Tour contender in the same class as Andy Schleck, but the 23-year-old cemented his place as France’s most promising stage racer by coming 22nd in his Tour debut. His consistency at the Tour augured well, especially based on his performances in the Pyrenees. Stronger and more experienced this year, a top 20 place seems likely.