Warren Barguil Signs With Fortuneo-Oscaro

Wednesday, 2 August 2017

Not every transfer gets a dedicated blog post but not every move seems to have generated as many questions by twitter and email. So here are a few notes and explainers on Warren Barguil’s move to Fortuneo-Oscaro in case you’re curious…

The role: Barguil might have ridden to tenth overall in the Tour de France but racing for GC is not for him. He told Eurosport’s Rois de la Pédale show during the Tour de France that “I don’t want to race for GC, to sit tight until the final moments on a climb, to limit the damage in the time trials” a phrase remarkable enough to be noted down at the time. Riders like Romain Bardet do this but it’s not easy dealing with the pressure every day, to try and crowd out the Sky steamroller. Instead Barguil wants room to attack and race as he pleases just as we saw in the Tour de France and it became obvious that he can’t do this at Sunweb with Tom Dumoulin.

The risks: that freedom to attack? It is helped by having the likes of Michael Matthews on the team and because your team have already won the Giro. Now doing this at Fortuneo-Oscaro won’t be the same, they will be banking on his attacks and success as essential rather than a delightful bonus. Sunweb are also known for their attention to detail, for the coaching support and more. Fortuneo-Oscaro are not and if they’ve also hired the consistent Amaël Moinard, 35, they’ll look to make more hires in support. Not that Barguil needs a mountain train, just a helper or two to fetch bottles.

Breton team: it marks a move back the squad Barguil rode for once as a stagiaire, a team founded in his native Brittany region, an area that is a hotbed of French cycling. Barguil is so attached to the region that, like many, he says he’s as much a Breton as a Frenchman. Barguil had moved to the south of France in search of better weather and longer climbs to train on but the move didn’t work out. His missed family and friends and in time moved back. The lesson here is that Barguil wants to live as he pleases rather than adopt the ascetic life of chasing every watt to the exclusion of other things in life.

A demotion? It is moving to a smaller team but hopefully the role Barguil wants to enjoy is clearer now. It’s not a first, Mark Cavendish joined Dimension Data before they got their World Tour licence, Cadel Evans quit a World Tour team to join BMC which was then a modest Pro Conti team, albeit backed an ambitious billionaire in Andy Rihs. This is a step down in UCI status but presumably Barguil picks up a substantial gain in salary and gets the freedom to race as he pleases that he would not find on any World Tour team, even a French squad like FDJ and Ag2r La Mondiale would mean uneasy cohabitation with the likes of Thibaut Pinot and Romain Bardet. It’s worth remembering too that Barguil rode for years at Skil-Shimano / Argos etc which became Sunweb and during the Pro Conti ranks.

No World Tour: Fortuneo-Oscaro aren’t moving up to the World Tour. They could not even if they wanted to because the UCI has announced the existing 18 teams have a spot and none of these teams are planning to quit the sport. But why would Fortuneo-Oscaro want to move up? With Warren Barguil they’re guaranteed wildcard invitations to many a race especially the Tour de France.

Funding the deal: The two sponsors are big, Fortuneo is an online banking brand belonging to a subsidiary of Crédit Mutuel, one of France’s biggest banks. Oscaro is a car parts retailer with operations in France, Belgium, Spain, Italy and the US and apparently has one of France’s most visited websites. Both are the kind who, when approached by the team’s manager Emmanuel Hubert, about a budget increase to buy Barguil, would have said yes because if it means increasing their contribution by, say, 20% the chance of a publicity bonanza next July rises by a much larger amount.

Still it means a big egg in a small basket. If Barguil gets ill or crashes ahead of the Tour the whole team’s ability to win takes a knock. They had a good Tour de France when measured against expectations of a Pro Conti team that doesn’t win much, now they will be held to a much higher standard and Barguil’s presence in, say, Paris-Nice, will mean pressure to prove himself and the team.

Meanwhile at Team Sunweb… the move frees up some space but they do lose a valuable climber. They’ve also lost Georg Preidler, part of Tom Dumoulin’s mountain guard in May, so will they be signing more support riders to accompany Dumoulin, Wilco Kelderman and Sam Oomen? There will be a few hundred thousand Euros to spare now.

Want more? This piece on Warren Barguil is a good primer on his background including his Paul McCartney barefoot moment and why his first team Skil-Shimano briefly thought he was Colombian…

Warren Barguil

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Anonymous August 2, 2017 at 4:12 pm

Thanks for this – timely, non-hysterical and well-balanced as always.

It’s great for Barguil – he’s cashing in on his new-found status. He’s been a classy rider for years but managed to shine brightest when it was most important this July.

The paragraph on the ‘risks’ is very important. Although he won hearts with his riding in the Tour, the pressure will now be on, whether he likes it or not.

Also – Fortuneo-Oscaro annoyed me during the Tour. The long flat days were problematic in that they were dull – but at least Wanty Groupe Gobert sent a rider into the break almost every time. F-O were a lot less visible. I’ll admit Brice Feillu had a good Tour.

Chris August 3, 2017 at 11:59 pm

Brice Feillu had a fantastic Tour… doing what they would like Barguil to do for them next year.. we’ll see if it works.

StevhanTI August 2, 2017 at 4:26 pm

Didn’t know Oscaro is a car parts dealer and probably wouldn’t have for a long time to com so their increased contribution to pro cycling is already starting to pay off…

Quite funny though that an on-line car parts dealer sponsors a decidedly physical and outdoor activity such as road cycling…

The Inner Ring August 2, 2017 at 10:37 pm

While in the likes of the US and UK we saw brands like Lexus and Maserati trying to sponsor things, in France the audience is more mass market and on a main TV channel for hours a day in July.

John S. August 3, 2017 at 2:25 am

Same here. I have a few odds and ends related to vehicle maintenance that I need to buy in the near future. Now I know where I’ll be ordering them from.

Richard S August 2, 2017 at 4:30 pm

It says a lot in its way about modern cycling that such a comparatively big name rider has to drop so far down the ladder in order to find a team where he can ride the Tour de France as a climber looking for stages and a jersey. Of course it is the norm nowadays for all such riders to be signed up to support the 3 or 4 riders deemed good enough to win a grand tour outright. I already liked Barguil but I like him even more now for breaking the recent trend and seeking his own glory. I hope he sets a trend. I suppose the French have the luxury of a lot of pro conti teams to choose from who are guaranteed spots in big races.

Anonymous August 2, 2017 at 4:38 pm

absolutely. i miss the old Kenny Ellisonde 🙁

MRJ August 3, 2017 at 4:42 pm

I’m sorry, Kenny who? I seem to recognize that name, but I literally have not heard it so far this year so it’s slow in coming back to me.

What have Sky done with him? Is he injured? Have they sent him to a series of third-tier races? Looks like his only notable result of the year is at Route du Sud. Surely his legs are strong enough to propel him into some sort of limelight at some point this year? Will we get to see him in Spain on the 19th?

Paul August 4, 2017 at 10:16 am

King Kenny was spotted at Vuelta Burgos yesterdat smashing it up a climb in aid of Landa.

I do remember us saying the same of Kwaka in his firts year with Sky and he turned out quite well!

RonDe August 9, 2017 at 11:41 am

Ellisonde is apparently a reserve rider for Sky’s Vuelta team. So unless they decide to swap someone out (and DS Cioni’s recent comments at Burgos stating that Landa could still be good enough to do La Vuelta complicate this) he won’t be there.

RonDe August 9, 2017 at 11:36 am

Maybe you should pay more attention. Ellisonde has been well utilised by Sky throughout the year as mountain support. Oh, I’m sorry, did you have him down as a team leader, someone who should be winning races? To read the comments of some fans about half the peloton should be team leaders. Yet, strangely, its only those riders who go to Sky who are regarded as having gone missing or settled for less. Are the Ellisondes of the world to be pitied that they came to a team to support others or should they just recognise that sport has a pecking order and people make choices about who their best bet is and who isn’t? I find it instructive here that although Kwiato is having what he himself has called his “best year so far” one of the major achievements he is being praised for is his completely unselfish work burying himself for Chris Froome, epitomised by the image of this year’s Tour, Kwiato working himself literally to a standstill on the Col d’Izoard.

Now, to bring this back to Barguil, he has clearly decided this route is not for him. He prefers freedom and racing how he wants. That’s fair enough. He’s chosen a few stage wins and maybe a mountain jersey here or there, over wearing yellow at the end of the race or being a reliable lieutenant for a grand tour victory. He is allowed his choice. Is it a better choice? Who knows. But I do know everyone can’t win. Everyone can’t have their head. Everyone can’t be racing for themselves. That’s not how cycling works.

I wish more fans realised that too.

Nick August 2, 2017 at 5:51 pm

The Breton factor may have been important here too, as I’m sure there are plenty of WT teams that would have offered Barguil the same opportunity, if approached.

StevhanTI August 2, 2017 at 6:17 pm

Wouldn’t be surprised to see Dan Martin staying at QS after all for similar reasons. He may not enjoy 100% team support when it might help him but he enjoys the liberty to pursuit his own goals from within a strong team dedicated to racing and winning rather than going for “results”. Then again he has arrived at a point in his career that it seems now or never if he would ever want to try getting a TdF podium finish with 100% team support…

Mats August 3, 2017 at 4:44 pm

Someone out there is linking Dan Martin with Sky. A rumor, sure, but AFAIK he hasn’t yet re-signed with EQS like many others

RQS August 2, 2017 at 8:14 pm

There are still World Tour teams where their best riders do not get any team support. Dan Martin and Rigobert Uran Uran are two to name a few. And often Cannondale/Garmin/Slipstream, Etixx/Quickstep and Europ Car play the races in whatever opportunistic fashion they can.
They don’t have one strategy, they have many. And his ability to win stages in that fashion would have been a useful addition. So I don’t think that the step to a Pro-Conti team is all about that per se.
Perhaps he views being a big fish in a small pond the way to accrue victories, rather than always going up against other World teams. Whatever, it must be either a very nuanced decision or eccentric.

Anonymous August 2, 2017 at 5:53 pm

Echo the first line of the first comment.

For clarification, Barguil did not spend “years at Skil-Shimano / Argos etc … during the Pro Conti ranks.” He rode a few races for them as a stagiaire in 2012 when they were Pro Conti. He signed as a neo-pro for 2013 when they went World Tour. Skil stopped being a title sponsor of the team in 2011.

Blake August 2, 2017 at 5:58 pm

This is reminiscent of Sagan moving to Borah. Build a whole team around one guy who just wants to do things the way he wants to do them. I like it.

Othersteve August 3, 2017 at 2:27 am

Yes, it is an admirable venture. yet when it does not work out you have fewer options.

What is Bora’s capital expenditures for riders top 20% of WT teams.

AP August 3, 2017 at 10:44 am

Just 4 weeks ago Sunweb were the plucky little team that could do no wrong. Now they’re the devil who are crushing The Next Big Thing’s ambitions, apparently. Barguil isn’t Sagan… Sagan entertains and wins more than stages.

RonDe August 9, 2017 at 11:57 am

Sagan might like the freedom and the knowledge that the whole team has been set up for him. But its not the only way to square the circle and rack up more than stage wins on the BinckBank Tour, Tour de Suisse or in California. Sagan has always suffered from lack of support and the notable thing about him is how many more big races he would win if he’d made other choices. He is a remarkable rider but with proper support would be even better. All those 2nds and 3rds tell a story too.

Tim August 2, 2017 at 6:04 pm

Included in the pressure is “Can he win the Tour de France?” which will be asked of him whether or not he ever targets the GC in that race or any other.

I suspect part of the allure of stepping down from the WT is that some of that pressure is alleviated. If he had gone to (insert WT team here), the higher level of support or cohabitation with (insert other promising star here) might prompt more pressure to target the GC – and target the GC NOW. Down a level, I believe he can be a little more free to purse whatever program (stages, KoM jersey) he desires, so long as he’s reasonably successful at it.

Ecky Thump August 2, 2017 at 6:21 pm

Just a thought here – but a breakaway / stage specialist is *to some degree* dependant on the peloton’s reaction to him. As a rider for a WT team, no problem, he’s a peer.
But as a potential major winner on a pro-conti team, is that risking the peloton’s ire?
I mean, they’re not just going to watch him ride off into the sunset are they?
Would the WT teams not think that was taking the ****?

Tim August 2, 2017 at 7:28 pm

I’d think they’d be apt to see him as a peer, and a rather dangerous one at that.

However, I’d wager that the drop to pro-conti would allow him more room to get away since he can’t act as relay or as an excuse for his team to not contribute to the front of the peloton. At Fortuneo, it’s just him. The lack of strong teammates means that he can’t benefit from the team card – good if you want some room, bad if you want to leverage some teammates.

The Inner Ring August 2, 2017 at 10:18 pm

The “can he win the Tour” pressure is a big thing, especially when the answer at the moment is “no”. This isn’t meant as a rejection but more on probability given Froome’s reign. But the pressure still exists because the possibility is there: Romain Bardet seems able to deflect it, Thibaut Pinot does his own thing and Julian Alaphilippe will face it next so the burden is shared across several shoulders now.

jc August 2, 2017 at 6:15 pm

I suspect this move says as much about Tom Dumoulin’s ambitions as Warren Barguil’s. This move confirms, what was pretty obvious anyway, that Tom Dumoulin is preparing a very serious bid for the Tour next year. Sunweb are clearly backing those ambitions and nothing is going to stand in the way. If Michael Matthews makes the Sunweb tour squad next year, I doubt he will get much if any support.

I wonder how long the “plucky” and “brave” outsider role will appeal. I can very much see how living amongst friends in a familiar environment would appeal when set against the hermit like existence that seems to be a requirement for modern day GT contenders (perhaps Nairo Quintana has some similar feelings?). However as he gets older will the desire to perhaps win the Tour outweigh the discomforts of the seemingly required lifestyle? If only it was as simple as riding a bike as quickly as possible round the course…….

Augie March August 3, 2017 at 10:50 am

Matthews will be fine as he’s not a bunch sprinter who requires a dedicated leadout train. The sort of stages he targets, the hillier ones, will usually feature a very reduced sprint so I’m sure his more modest requirements can be worked in with Dumolin’s GC ones. Matthews could also return the favour too as the the Tour this year showed how strong he can be in the mountains, so come the third week of the tour he could be a very handy domestique for Dumolin.

Richard S August 2, 2017 at 8:28 pm

The more I think about it the more I think Sunweb have missed a trick. We won’t know what went on, it could be that Barguil flat out didn’t want to risk being in the same team as Dumoulin, or that they simply couldn’t afford to keep the two of them and Matthews. If it’s just that Sunweb want to put all 7 eggs in Dumoulins basket at next years Tour and Barguil doesn’t want to play that game then it could be a mistake. They could have been the ideal GC one-two. On one hand you have Dumoulin able to beast the TTs but slightly vulnerable in the mountains, and on the other Barguil able to follow attacks on the mountains but not able to TT with the top GC men. Play them both and you have the bases covered. A good example would be how Banesto played the 1998 Vuelta with Abraham Olano (representing Dumoulin) and Jose Maria Jimenez (Barguil). Teams don’t seem willing to play that game any more and just want to build a mountain train to wear their rivals down/bore everyone to tears.

CoDrvr August 2, 2017 at 9:43 pm

Typo: ‘Sunweb are also know’. Known.

Excellent as always.
The biggest surprise of the ‘transfer frenzy’ by far (and I guess it’ll still be one even when all this year’s transfers are made public). Although Kennaugh’s move was a “No shit!” as well. Just a little less louder.

BenW August 3, 2017 at 10:55 am

I think the Kennaugh move will do him some good – he’s looked a little lacking this season and most of last. Was he pushed from Sky (i.e. no fresh contract offer) or did Bora come knocking?

Partykjeppen August 3, 2017 at 12:53 am

He’d been a mixed bag the last few years, especially the mustachioed version in last year’s Tour – no top 10 finishes at all in that. However, I’ve been a keen admirer of his style and willingess to attack after the 2014-Vuelta where the top 4 where constantly watching eachother whilst Barguil was alternating between getting dropped and attacking once he made it back up.

Jesus Navas could’ve gone abroad way earlier, but didn’t want to leave Andalucía. I see this as a congurent case in some ways where Barguil can return to his roots whilst still retaining more or less all he had in Holland bar great domestiques. But as highlighted he’s not that dependant on those. However, I predict grumblings when/if he repeats his 2016-Tour.

What really will be interesting to follow over the next few months is Direct Energie’s relative decline if Pineau’s team gets of the ground and signs Coquard pluss assorted helpers. Unless they stregthen, they’ be the weakest of the four French PCT-teams only really offering Calmejane as leverage for wildcard

Vitus August 3, 2017 at 7:20 am

“in last year’s Tour – no top 10 finishes at all in that.”
You’re aware of what happened to large portions of Giant-Alpecin last spring and how Barguil was part of that and how the team didn’t put any pressure on them in the Tour, cause they were just lucky to be alive and get a full roster together to ride? That Tour Dege had only 2 TopTen finishes. Therefore the 23th GC place ant 4th in Youth was a good result. And he finished 3rd GC in the Suisse a month before.

One Man Grupetto August 3, 2017 at 3:08 pm

French PCT team ranks next year may swamp the number of wildcards available. Fortuneo, Direct-Energie, Cofidis, Delko-MP, already plus add in the Jerome Pineau Vital Concept team and Armée de Terre if they are still planning to move up a level. Having 8 man teams might free up enough space for all otherwise that might be a tough decision to make.

AnotherDavid August 3, 2017 at 3:06 am

A sense of jealousy is what I feel when I see riders having to make a decision between teams to ride for.

Paul August 4, 2017 at 10:24 am

Surely Barguil simply wants:

1) release the pressue valve
2) ride in France for a french team
3) Lead at the TDF

How refreshing to see a young man with this clarity

ErnieC August 5, 2017 at 1:24 am

+1

Martijn Stolze August 6, 2017 at 11:18 am

Dear Inrng,

What I keep missing is to me the most essential part. Barguil had a deal for 2018. Did Sunweb release him? Did Fortuneo pay, and if so, what amount? Nobody seems to have an answer to this yet for the understanding of cycling and transfers it seems rather imperative.

The Inner Ring August 7, 2017 at 11:04 am

He was released. Sunweb free themselves from trying to find ways to field him and Dumoulin in the same races and everyone is on happy terms. Transfer fees do exist in cycling exist but they’re rare, Team Sky paid for Bradley Wiggins and Ben Swift to leave Slipstream and Katusha.

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