The renowned French amateur club VC La Pomme Marseille has stepped up its cycling project by creating a Continental team of 16 young riders. The French squad, originally based in the South of France, had to resort to the Latvian cycling federation, with which it has long-time ties, to take its UCI Continental licence.
As the team's general manager Frédéric Rostaing explained to Cyclingnews, the French cycling federation (FFC) and the national League LNC refused the outfit's application, while its Latvian counterpart had no problem supporting him.
"The FFC and the LNC thought our financial dossier was not sufficient, even though we provided a solid bank guarantee," said Rostaing.
The result of this rather odd situation will be a Franco-Latvian team based in Latvia for all administrative matters, but continuing to meet all other requirements (rider licences taken with the FFC, maintaining French salaries and social security).
"We will have seven French riders and seven Latvian," said Rostaing on Friday. "At the same time, it's a logical evolution of our club. We have always had privileged contacts with the Latvian Federation, which is grateful to us for allowing young Latvian talents to develop within our structure, and for some to access a professional career."
Amongst the former VC La Pomme riders now turned professional stars are Nicolas Roche, Dan Martin, Daryl Impey, Rémy Di Grégorio, Philip Deignan and Fumiyuki Beppu. With a budget of roughly 700,000 Euro, the team will entertain a total of 16 riders with one Lithuanian and one Argentine youngster also joining the outfit.
"Our hope is to build upon our national and international reputation and to prove our worth on the Continental level. The team team really is the top of a pyramidal project that covers many areas of promoting the sport and has a broad basis."
The VC La Pomme comprises its first division amateur team since 1974, Junior and Espoir outfits, a MTB squad and is active in developing the sport regionally in cooperation with municipal instances.