The FDJ team has secured a new co-naming rights sponsor in Groupama, and from March 2018 will be known as Groupama-FDJ. Despite the green logo of the new sponsor, the French WorldTour team will retain the blue, white and red colours of the French tricolore flag.
Groupama is a French insurance group founded in 1986. It has previously invested in sailing and is the naming rights sponsor of football stadiums in Lyon and Budapest, but is looking to cycling for greater exposure.
The company will provide equal financial support as FDJ, the French national lottery company that has backed the team since its inception in 1997 and now gives up its status as lead title sponsor for the first time. FDJ is reducing its input into the team, investing into other sporting ventures such as the Paris 2024 Olympic Games, but Groupama's investment will not only cover the losses but increase the team's budget by some 30 per cent.
French newspaper L'Equipe estimates that the team's budget will rise to somewhere in the region of 16 to 20 million Euros per year, which would surpass that of AG2R La Mondiale, the only other French WorldTour team.
"Groupama and FDJ join forces today with the objective of becoming the top French cycling team in terms of means, and with resources on par with those of international teams, allowing us to set our sights on establishing ourselves among the top 10 teams in the world," read a statement from the FDJ team today.
The partnership will come into effect in March 2018, so while the new kit will be unveiled on January 31, it will only be raced in for the first time at Paris-Nice on March 4.
"The team, the staff, the riders, we're all on the starting blocks ready to write a new page of our history," said long-standing team manager Marc Madiot.
The new investment will allow Madiot to flex his muscles in the transfer market, but the team vowed to retain its emphasis on home talent, and the Groupama partnership will see the creation of a development team in 2019.
The WorldTour team is currently led by Frenchmen Thibaut Pinot, fourth at the Giro d'Italia this year, and Arnaud Démare, a stage winner at the Tour de France, while David Gaudu has established himself as one of the riders of the future.
"Special attention will be placed on the scouting and recruitment of the best young French riders, which is in the DNA of Marc Madiot's team," read the statement.
The development team will start in 2019 as a UCI-registered Continental team. They will race in every corner of France and those who impress will have the opportunity to train and go on to earn contracts with the WorldTour team.
With 27 wins in total, the 2017 season was FDJ's best since 2014 when the team won 28 races, although they finished second last in the WorldTour team rankings.
Pinot enjoyed a promising spring with a stage win and podium finish at Ruta del Sol, third overall at Tirreno-Adriatico, and a stage and second overall at the Tour of the Alps. On his Giro d'Italia debut, Pinot won a stage and started the final stage third overall, eventually slipping to fourth. The 27-year-old then won the Tour de l'Ain, where he helped Gaudu to a stage win, and closed out the year with a successful block of Italian one-day races.
Démare likewise enjoyed a return to form in 2017 with stages wins at Etoile de Bessèges, Paris-Nice, Four Days of Dunkirk, Critérium du Dauphiné, and the Tour de France. The 26-year-old also won a second national title along with success at the Brussels Cycling Classic, Halle Ingooigem, and GP de Denain.
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