Groupama-FDJ launch Continental-level development team

The Groupama-FDJ team have launched a development team, which will begin racing in the Continental ranks in February 2019.

The UCI hopes more WorldTour teams will help the development of the sport by creating Continental teams. The UCI has produce a reform proposal for 2020, where riders from development teams can ride for the WorldTour team in specific races and suggested that 'training compensation fees' should be paid to the development teams.     

Plans for the Groupama-FDJ squad were first announced late last year as part of a new sponsorship deal between Marc Madiot's long-running French team and insurance company Groupama. On Monday, the team gathered on the Champs Elysées to unveil the inaugural line-up.

Jens Blatter, who used the run the BMC Development set-up before it folded at the end of last year, will be the team's manager, and was joined at the event by Nicolas Boisson, who will be head coach, and Jérôme Gannat, directeur sportif.

The team will be based in Besançon, where Madiot had planned to install a youth training centre some years ago, and will share some facilities and expertise with the WorldTour squad. Alongside the cycling, riders will be able to pursue academy study, while receiving a "unique" salary.

The team, which will also be known as Groupama-FDJ and referred to informally as 'La Conti', will be made up of 12 riders in the first season. The best-known name is Morgan Kneisky, a four-time world champion on the track, who, along with riding a limited road programme en route to the 2020 Olympics, will be lending his experience to the 11 other much younger riders. 

The rest of the squad is made up of a mixture of nationalities, with only four other Frenchmen in Alexys Brunel, Clément Davy, Simon Guglielmi, and Théo Nonnez. Completing the line-up are Italians Samuele Manfredi and Christian Scaroni, Luxembourger Kévin Geniets, Dutchman Kévin Inkelaar, Slovenian Ziga Jerman, Estonian Karl-Patrick Lauk, and Brit Jake Stewart.

The team will make their first racing appearance at the Boucles de l'Essor at the start of February, and will have a largely France-based calendar, though they do plan to compete in some one-day and stage races overseas.

"The development and recruitment of young riders have been at the heart of our team project for 22 years now. Since 1997, hand-in-hand with the historic partnership with FDJ, we have worked to allow young riders to break through while pursuing their school studies, and to chase their dreams in the best possible environment," said Madiot.

"The arrival of Groupama in 2018 gave us the dynamic, human, and financial impetus needed to finally bring about the project we've envisaged since the start of the adventure: a true structure for the riders of tomorrow, international and multi-faceted, supported by the leading lights in training and development, all based on a unique collection of expertise. A development centre, looking to the future, combining performance with the human aspect."

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