Total Direct Energie have confirmed the signing of British rider Chris Lawless from Ineos Grenadiers and Edvald Boasson Hagen from NTT Pro Cycling, as the French ProTeam bolster their sprint, Classics and Grand Tour units for 2021.
Lilian Calmejane is moving to AG2R-Citroen but team manager Jean-René Bernaudeau has secured the services of Pierre Latour, Alexandre Geniez and Alexis Vuillermoz from the rival French squad to elevate Total Direct Energie's presence in the peloton and try to compete with bigger WorldTour teams while remaining at ProTeam level.
Total Direct Energie have also signed Victor de La Parte from CCC Team and fellow Spaniard Cristian Rodríguez from Caja Rural. Niki Terpstra remains as the Classics leader. The arrival of Lawless and Boasson Hagen will further strengthen the Classics squad, while Niccolò Bonifazio remains as the team's lead sprinter.
Boasson Hagen's arrival comes after NTT Pro Cycling’s sponsorship problems. The 33-year-old Norwegian has won three stages at the Tour de France and a total of 81 races during his career with Team Columbia, Team Sky and NTT, including Gent-Wevelgem and Vattenfall Cyclassics. He finished second to Wout Van Aert in the stage 7 sprint to Lavaur at this year's Tour de France.
“My goal is to win as much as possible, to race hard and to get the best results I can," Boasson Hagen said.
"I'm a versatile rider, so I hope to rid the Spring Classics and have the chance to win stages in the Tour de France. I can't wait to join the team and meet them all at the training camps. Hope we have a normal season next year!"
Lawless was signed from Ineos Grenadiers despite having a contract with the British team for 2021. The 25-year-old British puncheur-sprinter won the 2019 Tour de Yorkshire and was third at the 2019 Scheldeprijs. However, he has been allowed to move on and will be given more opportunities.
"It's a bit of a leap into the unknown because I've always been in English-speaking teams with teammates that I knew well. I can't wait to take on these new challenges and see what this team can do for me," Lawless said.
"I want to improve even more in the Classics. Alongside Niki Terpstra, I will be able to learn even more and always go further. I don't know exactly what my role will be yet, but I know I have a lot to learn from the experience of other riders. I think I will have the opportunity to get even more victories on my own."
Total Direct Energie will have to fight for wild card invitations to the Tour de France and the WorldTour Classics but Bernaudeau has the backing of his sponsors and appears confident of riding a full programme of major races in 2021.
"Thanks to the support of Total, the Total Direct Energie team has completed an ambitious hiring campaign that mixes youth and experience,"’ Bernaudeau said.
"There’s a group of climbers built around Pierre Latour, Alexandre Geniez and Fabien Doubey, plus Spanish riders Victor de La Parte and Cristian Rodriguez. We’re well set for the Classics with Niki Terpstra and Anthony Turgis and for the sprints with Niccolò Bonifazio, while Lawless is a good all-rounder.”"
Bernaudeau hinted that news on Boasson Hagen would be forthcoming.
"I’d still like to add a fast finisher, a road captain. I have an idea of who," he said. "Our recruitment for the year will be finalised by Friday."
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