The Invisible Forces in Pro Cycling

When Christian Prudhomme presented the 2013 Tour de France he started by singing the praise of the Mouvement Pour un Cyclisme Crédible (MPCC), a group of teams who have signed up to an ethical charter. It does sound good only nobody knows much about it.

The same goes for other groups in the sport. Did you know there is a union that works for pro cyclists? And that the main pro teams are represented by a group called the AIGCP?

Each of these three organisations represents something important in the sport but at the same time they’re discreet to the point of being invisible.

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Boyer Fired From Cofidis

Eric Boyer Bikini Women Tour de France

Eric Boyer has had happier times in July. That’s him in the picture “reaching out” to a fan on the last stage of the 1992 Tour de France. This year he faces sitting at home after being fired as manager of the Cofidis team.

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Saturday Shorts

Sylvain Chavanel French jersey

It’s the weekend of the national championships across Europe. Whilst America, Asia and Australia have different weekends, pretty much everywhere in Europe sees simultaneous national championships. In some European countries these races can take on a strange feel with several teams of 25 riders starting, making the tactics completely different from your usual race.

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2012 UCI Pro Teams

Professional cycling teams are ranked into three tiers. The top level is UCI Pro Team and the 18 teams here have automatic and obligatory access to the big races on the UCI’s World Tour calendar. In addition, there is a range of rules governing these teams that aim to ensure sporting and financial stability.

You’ll find the top-18 teams below, their sponsors explained plus riders and staff listed.

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French teams: development squads?

All for one, one for all

Philippe Gilbert used to ride for FDJ but these days there’s little chance he could go back. The French squad simply doesn’t have the budget to hire him. In an interesting piece on, Cofidis manager Eric Boyer says “We don’t have the means the to pay a rider one million a year. It’s an eighth of our budget” whilst Europcar’s manager Jean-René Bernaudeau says that hiring a staff would cost a fortune, “Gilbert, he’d cost our entire team budget“.

France is a nation of 60 million people, Europe’s second largest economy and home to the Tour de France and an extensive calendar of other races. How come the domestic teams have such modest budgets? What is their place in the sport?

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FDJ back in the Pro Tour

FDJ logo

French team FDJ will rejoin the UCI ProTour in 2012. The team received confirmation from the UCI via email this afternoon and the official announcement is expected tomorrow. It matters for a team that has ambitions to grow and to nurture French talent.

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The pre-season training camp

Ag2r camp

If you’re on Twitter and follow various pro cyclists you might have noticed quite a few “back to work” messages in the past couple of weeks. Riders have had their time off and it there is no racing until the Tour Down Under in mid-January, there’s plenty of training to be done.

“Cardiologist, podiatrist, dentist, Nalini, Medilast, meeting, medical exam, anti-doping control, Fizik, now a breather with a visit to Olympique Lyonnais”

That’s a day in the life of Luis Ángel Maté at the Cofidis training camp in Lyon, France’s second city. Note there’s no riding. Instead this is a chance for checks and admin, marketing and measurements. Nalini is the clothing supplier and riders get measured for their kit, there is no S, M or L, instead the clothing is measured like a tailor-made suit. After all these companies want their kit to look good and ensuring it hangs right on a pro is part of this. Talking of jerseys, we should see the new Cofidis jersey unveiled.

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Vélo d’Or français


As well as the international award, Vélo Magazine offers a domestic prize to the best French rider of the year. For 2011 the choice was obvious, Thomas Voeckler. As ever this blog has a particular focus on French cycling so here’s a look at Voeckler’s season and the other contenders for the award.

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Tony Gallopin wins the Coupe de France

Tony Gallopin

The Coupe de France (“French Cup”) is a season-long trophy awarded for races in France. There are fifteen races and riders can score points in each round. Typical races include the season-opening Grand Prix d’Ouverture La Marseillaise, Paris-Camembert or Châteauroux Classic de l’Indre. The final round was on Sunday, the Tour de Vendée won by Marco Marcato of Vacansoleil and results allowed Tony Gallopin (Cofidis) to retain his lead.

Each of these races are open to the usual teams but points for the Coupe are only awarded to French riders and foreign riders on French teams. For example past winners include Thor Hushovd and Philippe Gilbert as they rode for Crédit Agricole and FDJ respectively.

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Is Pierre Rolland the next big thing?

Pierre Rolland Alpe d'Huez

Aged 24, Pierre Rolland won the Tour de France stage on Alpe d’Huez today and took the White Jersey. Is he the next big thing in French cycling? No, Pierre Rolland was the next big thing three years ago.

It happened in 2008 when he was a second year pro on the Crédit Agricole team and took the mountains jersey in the Dauphiné stage race in June, aged just 21. Don’t take my word for it, back then asked aloud: is Pierre Rolland France’s next big thing?

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