Cofidis has replaced team manager Yves Sanquer with former rider turned TV pundit Cedric Vasseur, citing poor results as the reason for the switch. Sanquer is the second Cofidis manager to suffer such a fate after he replaced Eric Boyer in mid-2012 due to a lack of results. Rumours around Sanquer's departure from the team have been floating around since last season.
Cofidis is one of the long-standing teams in the professional peloton, riding under the same sponsorship since 1997. For many years, the French team raced at the top of the sport with multiple Grand Tour stage wins and the Vuelta a Espana's mountains classification on four occasions thanks to Davide Moncoutie. However, since 2010, they have been competing at Professional Continental level and have relied on Cofidis' sponsorship of many top events to secure wild card entries. The team won just 13 races in 2017.
Sprinter Nacer Bouhanni joined the team in 2015 to much fanfare but the erratic Frenchman has largely missed the mark in his grander ambitions. He won seven races and topped the UCI Europe Tour ranking but his only WorldTour victory was a stage at the Volta a Catalunya in March. His Tour de France was hit by a nasty crash at the Tour de Yorkshire that left him with concussion.
"In an ever more competitive sporting context, professional cycling teams must find the driving force that will enable them to sustainably guarantee their continued place at the highest level of the sporting pyramid," a statement from the Cofidis team read announcing the change of team manager.
"For our team, which evolves on the European continental circuit, we require a wild card for the main events of the WorldTour circuit every season. The only way to achieve this is to be an essential team, thanks, in particular, to indisputable sporting results. This has, unfortunately, no longer the case in recent years.
"The results were not at the expected level, and the media visibility of Cofidis is being affected. It was urgent to get the team back on track, with a new project and on a new basis. For that, it needed a man who best embodies this new drive. Cédric Vasseur will be the new General Manager of the team."
A former Cofidis rider
Vasseur began his professional career with the Novemail-Histor team in 1993. After stints on GAN - where he enjoyed three days in the Tour de France's yellow jersey in 1997, Credit Agricole and US Postal Service, he moved to the Cofidis team for the 2002 season.
He won stages of the Criterium du Dauphine, the Tour du Limousin and the Tour de l'Ain during his four seasons with the squad. He was one of several riders, including David Millar, arrested on doping offences in 2004. He was eventually cleared of all charges but was forced to miss that year's Tour de France. He moved onto Quick-Step in 2006 and would end his career with the Belgian outfit the following year after winning his second Tour de France stage.
Since his retirement, Vasseur had a spell as the head of the Professional Cyclists Association (CPA) and has been working as a TV pundit in recent years. Vasseur spoke to the French press about his appointment, saying that he hoped to return the squad to their former glories and help Bouhanni join the top sprinters in the peloton.
"It's the start of an ambitious project," Vasseur told lavoixdunord.fr. "It's something I want to do and because Cofidis deserves the reward of 20 years of loyalty to cycling.
"I am convinced that the team is attractive and that Bouhanni has the potential to become one of the best sprinters in the world and compete with Marcel Kittel, Andre Greipel or Fernando Gaviria. I want to help him regain confidence. I want Cofidis to stand out for their victories, their taste for the offensive and their collective mindset, which is my priority. We must not forget that we depend on wild cards to participate in the biggest events."