Cofidis turn to Coquard after Viviani disappointment
'We’d have continued with the Viviani of QuickStep, but we never saw that with us' says Vasseur
Cofidis have confirmed their interest in signing Bryan Coquard for 2022 as they prepare to wave goodbye to Elia Viviani after a disappointing two years.
The French team stepped up to WorldTour level in 2020 with the signing of Viviani, who had won 29 races in two years with Deceuninck-QuickStep. However, the move has not worked out, with Viviani winless in 2020 and only picking up three lower-level wins so far this year.
As his two-year contract nears its conclusion at the end of this year, a parting of ways was confirmed by Cofidis management in French newspaper L’Equipe on Saturday.
“Given our collaboration over the past two years, we know perfectly well that neither he nor us want to carry on together,” said Cofidis president Thierry Vittu.
“It’s disappointing because we signed him to be our leader in the sprints and the outcome is very far off our expectations. I think we did what we had to do to support him. It hasn’t worked.”
Team manager Cédric Vasseur added: “We’d have liked to continue with the Viviani of QuickStep, but we never found that when he was with us.”
Viviani has been linked to a move to Eolo-Kometa, the second-division Italian outfit run by Alberto Contador and Ivan Basso. One of the lead-out men he brought to Cofidis, Fabio Sabatini, is also set to leave, although the other, Simone Consonni, has signed a new deal and could become Coquard's lead-out man and alternative.
The French team, who could lose Christophe Laporte at the end of the season, are now looking to reconstruct their sprinting division, with Coquard top of their shopping list.
The 29-year-old sprinter has spent the last four years at the second-division B&B Hotels team run by Jérôme Pineau, winning 12 races in that time. Pineau has accepted he will lose Coquard but is active in the transfer market for 2022.
“I can say that we’re in discussions with Bryan Coquard, even if nothing is signed,” said Vasseur, who also indicated they were looking at “rides like” Giacomo Nizzolo (Qhubeka NextHash) and Davide Cimolai (Israel Start-Up Nation).
“It’s clear we’re not waiting until August 1 to negotiate,” he added referring to the UCI window for finalizing rider transfers.
“I think we also want to put a French element back into that area because the impact is bigger. If I have the means and I can convince Bryan, I’d be very happy.
"What’s no secret is that we’re looking for a sprinter, who is also capable of getting by alone. A sprinter is a must, and if he can be French and win stages in the Tour de France next year, that would be great.”
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By Josh Croxton