Former French rider Jérôme Pineau has confirmed Vital Concept as a title sponsor of his new Professional Continental team and announced Bryan Coquard as team leader, with the goal to secure a wild card invitation to the 2018 Tour de France.
Pineau has been working on the team for several months and has an estimated budget of €6 million. He has signed 15 riders and will hire a further five riders to complete the team's 20-rider roster.
Vital Concept is a retailer of agricultural and gardening products. It sponsored the Fortuneo team until this year's Tour de France but split to join forces with Pineau. The Fortuneo team secured Oscaro as a second sponsor and has signed Warren Barguil for 2018. Both teams are based in Brittany, with Vital Concept working with the VC Pays de Loudéac, one of the strongest teams in Brittany when it comes to developing young riders.
The creation of the Vital Concept team means there will be five French Professional Continental teams fighting for the expected four wild card invitations to the Tour de France, though the reduction to eight-man teams in 2018 potentially affords ASO some leeway to award a fifth wild card.
"We want to start winning as soon as possible," Pineau said during the official presentation of the team at the Vital Concept offices in Loudéac. "We hope to take part in the biggest race and our goal is to be at the 2018 Tour de France."
Coquard joins as team leader after a difficult divorce from the Direct Energie team. He told Jean-Rene Bernaudeau that he wanted to quit the Vendee-based squad in the spring and was not selected for the Tour de France.
Pineau raced as a professional between 2002 and 2015, spending much of his career alongside Sylvain Chavanel. He won a stage at the 2010 Giro d'Italia and retired after two final seasons with the Swiss IAM Cycling team.
Also joining Vital Concept are Kevin Reza, Lorrenzo Manzin, Johan Le Bon and Marc Fournier from FDJ, Bert De Backer (Team Sunweb), Kris Boeckmans (Lotto-Soudal), Quentin Pacher (Delko-Marseille Provence-KTM), Corentin Ermenault (Team Wiggins), Yoann Bagot (Cofidis), Steven Lammertink (LottoNL-Jumbo), Jérémy Lecroq (Roubaix-Lille Métropole) and neo-pro Justin Mottier from VC Pays de Loudéac.
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