The French Saur-Sojasun team presented its 2010 line-up in Paris on Tuesday, choosing the Eiffel Tower as the site for its first step into the sport's second tier.
Manager Stephane Heulot voiced the all-French team's goal: to become players in the big races, and the man to lead that charge is Jimmy Casper.
For stage races, he will look to Jonathan Hivert, Jerome Coppel and Sebastien Joly (three new recruits), while sprinter Jimmy Casper will lead the team for stage wins and in one-day races. Casper was the winner of the Coupe de France series and was the third-ranked rider in the UCI's European Tour last year, having won 10 races over the course of the season.
With a sprint train bolstered by Cyril Lemoine, Stéphane Poulhiès and Rony Martias who will add reinforcements for Casper's main lead-out man, Jimmy Engoulvent, Heulot thinks that Casper, who at 31 has had 11 seasons in the sport's top tier, can take on the biggest sprinters in the ProTour.
Heulot aspires to gain selection in the Tour de France now that the team has been granted a Professional Continental license, up from the third tier last year. In order to competed against former ProTour teams Bbox Bouygues Telecom and Cofidis, Heulot knows the team must make its mark in the early season to gain the attention of the Tour organisers.
The team will take on the Tour of Qatar and the Tour of Oman in February to dial in the train.
2010 Saur-Sojasun team
General Manager: Stéphane Heulot
Directeurs sportifs: Nicolas Guillé, Lylian Lebreton.