New Cofidis directeur sportif Didier Rous has insisted that there are no hard feelings between him and Europcar manager Jean-René Bernaudeau. Rous left Europcar’s management team at the turn of the year to take up his new position with Cofidis. He had previously spent eight seasons as a rider for Bernaudeau’s teams.
“I had an experience that allowed me to learn a lot on the bike and as a directeur sportif, and now another is beginning,” Rous told L’Équipe. “I left my old team on good terms. There’s no animosity between Jean-René, me or anybody else on the staff.
“I needed a new experience and I came to an agreement with Eric [Boyer, manager of Cofidis]. I’m proud to be part of this time and above all I hope to be up to the task.”
Rous formally signed for Cofidis in the first week of January after spending the winter working with Europcar’s riders ahead of the 2011 season. The onus is now on the Frenchman to adapt quickly to life at his new team.
“That’s not a problem,” Rous said. “My job is to learn to understand as best and as quickly as possible the people with whom I work. I have ten days to acclimatise myself and soak up the daily life of the team. From that I will see how to work and how the manager the riders.”
Rous is enthusiastic about his challenge with Cofidis and is looking forward to the prospect of working with new riders.
“It’s a coming team based on young talent,” he said. “The team I was on last year lost a lot, especially at the end of the year. Here, I have seen some young riders who have shown me a certain desire to learn. I hope to bring them a lot of things, especially in terms of spirit, fight and ambition.”
Rous was understood to be upset with Pierrick Fedrigo's departure from Bbox-Bouygues Telecom to FDJ, as well as his own lack of input into the team's recruitment policy. Another of his erstwhile charges, Nicolas Vogondy, will again link up with him at Cofidis.
One rider who opted to stay with Jean-René Bernaudeau’s team in the winter was Thomas Voeckler. The French champion was on the verge of signing for Cofidis until Europcar emerged as a last-minute replacement for Bouygues Telecom as sponsor. Rous acknowledged that landing Voeckler would have marked a significant coup for Cofidis.
“I think that everybody would have loved to have had Thomas in the team,” he said. “But he’s not here and I think that nonetheless we will win races without him.”
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Barry Ryan is European Editor at Cyclingnews. He has covered professional cycling since 2010, reporting from the Tour de France, Giro d’Italia and events from Argentina to Japan. His writing has appeared in The Independent, Procycling and Cycling Plus. He is the author of The Ascent: Sean Kelly, Stephen Roche and the Rise of Irish Cycling’s Golden Generation (opens in new tab), published by Gill Books.
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