Cofidis manager Éric Boyer has admitted that the lack of a recognised team leader may have cost his squad a ProTeam licence for 2011. Boyer was on the verge of signing Thomas Voeckler as leader in October, but the Frenchman ultimately opted to stay put at Jean-René Bernaudeau’s squad and helped secure Europcar’s sponsorship for 2011.
“The UCI told us that we didn’t have a leader and I’ve heard that message loud and clear,” Boyer told L’Équipe. “I hope that a rider from the 2011 roster will become the leader we are missing but if at the end of next spring we have the feeling that he’s not there, we’ll have to recruit one.”
Boyer went on to define the type of leader he has in mind to Le Voix du Nord: “A rider under 30 years of age, capable of finishing in the top five of a major tour or of winning a classic.”
AG2R are the only the French squad to have obtained a ProTeam licence, even though Cofidis were ranked ahead of them in the UCI’s initial ranking of ProTeam applicants, which was based on sporting criteria.
“I’m disappointed as we were better placed in terms of sporting criteria and I have the feeling that we can’t have been too far off,” Boyer said to L’Équipe. “But from AG2R’s example I can see that it’s not impossible for a French team to be in the first division, even if I admit that I had been asking myself questions.”
Boyer also explained that that his team’s calendar of races will suffer significantly as a result of missing out on ProTeam status and called on the UCI to clarify its selection procedures in the future.
“This year, we weren’t invited to Tirreno, Milan-San Remo, Amstel, the Tour of Romandie and the Tour de Suisse and I don’t really see how we could be next year either,” he said. “From 9am tomorrow I’ll begin drawing up our programme, but our strategy is going to consist of riding a lot of events on the continental calendar. All the same, the UCI needs to hurry and tell us the rules of the game.”