Two-year extension for Calmejane at Direct Energie

Second year neo-professional Lilian Calmejane has inked a two-year extension with Direct Energie. The 24-year-old won a stage at the Tour de France on his debut at the race in July.

With Thomas Voeckler retiring, and Bryan Coquard leaving the Pro-Continental team at the end of 2017, Calmejane will take on the mantle as a team captain. Calmejane has enjoyed a breakout season so far in 2017 with stage wins and overall victories at Etoile de Bessèges, Settimana Internazionale Coppi e Bartali, and Circuit Cycliste Sarthe-Pays de la Loire.

"There are quite a few factors that are taken into account. There is already the fact that the team is taking a new turn, where I will have a leading role to assume," Calmejane said of his decision to re-sign. "It is true that I had a fairly rapid progression and that I have many ambitions. Direct Energie trusts me and offers me a long-term project.

"Like the majority of the team today, I went through Vendée U. Jean-René (Bernaudeau) gave me my chance," he added of the team manager and the team's development squad. "Passing through Vendée U, it allowed me to have a progression over four years and to have today the responsibilities I have within Direct Energie. I have a moral duty to the team, I do not want to disappoint them."

Calmejane's first season in the pro ranks included several top-ten results before he claimed a win at the Vuelta a España on his Grand Tour debut. In 2017, the Albi native has gone to another level with the Tour de France a highlight. Along with his stage win, Calmejane also wore the polka dot jersey and was awarded the combativity award on stage three and eight.

While Calmejane wants more success from the season, he is looking forward to continuing his development with Direct Energie.

"It's a bit early to think about, the 2017 season is not over, and I still have victory cravings. Direct Energie is invited on the Tour of Lombardy: it is a monument of cycling, so I think about it," he said.

"The Tour de France will be my focus of 2018, I will articulate my season around this, it is obvious. After that, it is true that I dream of one day wearing the jersey of champion of France."

Despite his three GC wins in 2017, Calmejane added his focus, for now, remains on stage wins.

"For now, I prefer to have a victory over a Grand Tour rather than aiming for a top 15-20. But, I'm only 24 years old, it has time to change according to my physical evolution. But it is true that in the short term, I will privilege stage victories," he said.

Direct Energie has also extended the contracts of Adrien Petit, Sylvain Chavanel, Perrig Quémeneur, and Alexandre Pichot.

There will be numerous changes at Direct Energie with a large amount of incoming and outgoing riders. Leaving the team are Thomas Voeckler, Bryan Coquard (Vital Concept), Julien Morice, Antoine Duchesne, Tony Hurel, and Fabrice Jeandesboz. Confirmed signings from 2018 include Axel Journiaux (Neo-Pro), Simon Sellier (Neo-Pro), Rein Taaramäe (Katusha-Alpecin), Jérôme Cousin (Cofidis), and Damien Gaudin (l'Armée de Terre).

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