Fortuneo-Samsic's Arnaud Gérard will make the switch from rider to the role of directeur sportif with his team as he retires from life as a pro to take on new challenges behind the wheel of the team car.
Among a raft of French riders retiring at the end of the 2018 season – including Sylvain Chavanel and Jérémy Roy – Gérard, who won the 2002 junior world championship road race in Limburg, Belgium, ahead of Finland's Jukka Vastaranta and Australian Nick Sanderson, will hang his wheels up after 14 seasons as a professional.
The 34-year-old, from Dinan, in Brittany, turned pro in 2005 with La Française des Jeux after having spent periods during both of the two previous seasons with the French team as a stagiaire.
Gérard worked for most of his career as a domestique, but had a very successful 2008 season, when he won the Polynormande one-day race, finished sixth in the GP Ouest-France, 10th at the Omloop Het Volk, and won the combativity award on stage 12 of the Tour de France after being part of day-long, two-man breakaway with compatriot Samuel Dumoulin, which was only caught inside the final 10 kilometres.
Following a move to the Bretagne-Séché Environnment team in 2013, after eight years with FDJ, Gérard won the opening stage of the 2015 Tour du Poitou-Charantes, which gave him the leader's jersey until stage 3 of a race eventually won by German time-trial specialist Tony Martin, then riding for Etixx-Quick Step.
"I wanted to continue working in cycling," said Gérard on the Fortuneo-Samsic website, "and for some years I've had the role of 'road captain' on the team. Of course, that's not exactly the same thing as being a directeur sportif in the team car, but it's along the same lines.
"It's certainly going to be a bit different next year," he continued. "I'll meet up with my former teammates at our upcoming team camp in November, and there'll be a period of time getting used to not being a rider anymore, but I think it could be an advantage that I've only just stopped as a rider myself. I'll know how they work and what they're thinking, and I hope they'll be happy to come to me to talk about things. I can't wait to get started in my first races from the team car."
One new recruit on the team will be veteran sprinter André Greipel, who joins from Lotto Soudal – and who, at 36, is two years older than his new directeur sportif.