The Total Direct Énergie team has confirmed that it has turned down the chance to ride the 2020 Giro d'Italia, despite securing an automatic invitation, so it can focus on other objectives during the season.
The French team topped the Professional Continental rankings in 2019, securing an automatic invitation to all the 2020 WorldTour races. However with a roster of just 24 riders, Total Direct Énergie has admitted it cannot be successful if it tries to compete in a full WorldTour calendar. Instead, the team will carefully choose its goals and race programme.
The team did not reveal which, if any, other WorldTour races it will decide to miss during the 2020 season. It is expected to focus on the Tour de France, ride the Vuelta a España as a second Grand Tour and select other races to suit 2018 Tour of Flanders winner Niki Terpstra, Frenchman Lilian Calmejane and Italian sprinter Niccolò Bonifazio.
It is likely the team will focus on the French Cup races on home soil rather than travel long distances to some WorldTour races, with a number coming during the Giro, including the ProSeries race GP de Plumelec-Morbihan.
Calmejane and other riders were forced to chase ranking points in the second half of the 2019 season and so will likely have a less intense race programme in 2020.
"After discussion with the team's sports management, we decided not to go (to the Giro d'Italia)," team manager Jean-René Bernaudeau said on the Total Direct Energie website.
"It'd be too risky in a sporting sense if we went (to the Giro d'Italia). The squad is not strong enough to hope to be successful at Milan-San Remo, the Flanders races, the Giro d'Italia and the Tour de France."
"While we were delighted to be first in Professional Continental rankings last October, our recruitment plans were almost complete. We didn't have enough time to change our squad."
A total of 22 eight-rider teams compete in each Grand Tour. The 2020 WorldTour includes 19 squads, with Cofidis joining the current 18 teams for next season and Israel Cycling Academy taking over Katusha-Alpecin.
The absence of Total Direct Énergie will give Vegni a chance to support Italian cycling and could now see the presence of the three remaining Italian Professional Continental teams (Androni Giocattoli-Sidermec, Bardiani-CSF-Faizanè and Neri Sottoli-Selle Italia) in next year's Corsa Rosa. Nippo-Vini-Fantini, meanwhile, have folded due in part to the decreased Giro wildcard slots in 2020.
The 2020 Giro d'Italia starts in Hungary on May and ends in Milan on May 31.