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“We won’t need to wait for wildcards anymore, which above all makes me happy for my riders. They’re the ones I’m thinking of," manager Jean-Rene Bernaudeau tells L'Equipe

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12.12.2013 @ 15:42 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

Two days ago Team Europcar were welcomed back into the top division of the sport when the French team was granted a two-year WorldTour license. Team manager Jean-Rene Bernaudeau is happy not to be reliant on wildcards and is looking forward to more grand tour racing in 2014.

 

When the UCI ProTour was created in 2005, the Bouygues Telecom team managed by Jean-Rene Bernaudeau was one of 20 teams to receive a license for the inaugural edition of the finest series in cycling. The team was part of the top division of the sport for 5 years but failed to get its license renewed prior to the 2010 season.

 

Since then, the team - which is now known as Team Europcar - has been operating at the professional continental level and has missed out on many of the world's biggest races. The team has always been present at the French WorldTour races but has had limited chances to show its talents in the WorldTour races outside of their home country.

 

That will change in 2014 as the UCI has announced that they have welcomed Team Europcar back into the WorldTour. The team has received a two-year license which means that they will gain automatic entry to all races on the WorldTour calendar.

 

This provides the team with significant stability as it can now easier make long-term planning of its race schedules. Bernaudeau welcomes the news as it will make it much easier for this riders to target specific races.

 

“We won’t need to wait for wildcards anymore, which above all makes me happy for my riders. They’re the ones I’m thinking of,” he told L'Equipe. “We won 26 races this year, we dominated the second division [UCI Europe Tour – ed.] and this promotion to the WorldTour is a reward for their efforts and that fills me with pride.”

 

While it operated as pro continental team, Team Europcar has been present in all editions of the Tour de France but it hasn't raced another grand tour since the 2010 Vuelta a Espana. As the Tour is the marquee event, only the 9 best riders have been selected for La Grande Boucle and so there have been no chances for younger riders to test themselves in a three-week race.

 

That will change in 2014.

 

“We’re going to be able to plan personalised race programmes for each of our riders, without exception,” sports director Andy Flickinger told L’Équipe. “In the last few years, we’ve only done the Tour, which only involved 9 out of 25 riders and caused a lot of frustration. This time, everyone will have a chance to ride a grand tour.”

 

In 2014 the team's captain Thomas Voeckler plans to benefit from these opportunities. He will again ride the Tour de France where he has had much success in the past but will also target the world championships on the hilly course in Ponferrada. He will ride the Vuelta a Espana in preparation of the battle for the rainbow jersey.

 

The team's other star rider, Pierre Rolland, will line up alongside Voeckler in the Tour but will benefit from the extended race schedule by riding the Tirreno-Adriatico and the Tour de Suisse instead of the Paris-Nice and the Criterium du Dauphiné. This will allow him to escape the pressure from the French public as he prepares for the major race of the season.

 

The team has announced that it will add a few riders after being granted access to the WorldTour. The team has already confirmed the signing of U23 Canadian champion Antoine Duchesne.

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