The 2013 season is under way
Team Europcar gathered its riders and unveiled a stylish new jersey for the 2013 team presentation in the department of Yvelines near Paris on Friday.
The presentation happened on the eve of the team's training camp, which will run until 18th January in Girona. The camp will coincide with Europcar's first race of the season, the Tropicale Amissa Bongo six-day stage race in Gabon (14th-20th January) which has been won by Anthony Charteau for the past three seasons.
Joining Charteau in his bid to make it a fourth straight victory will be Pierre Rolland, Christophe Kern, Yohann Gène and new signings Natnael Berhane and Morgan Lamoisson.
Team leader Thomas Voeckler – who last autumn was voted best French rider by Velochrono magazine for the third consecutive season, with Rolland picking up third place – will officially start his season with the Etoile de Bessèges race, which he won in 2009, on Wednesday 30th January.
Voeckler will also take part in two cyclo-cross races in late January. His first stage race of the season will be the Mediterranean Tour, which starts on Wednesday 6th February.
The 32-year-old rider admitted he still has "a few kilos to lose" despite the "hard" winter training fortnight in Corsica in December. "But I rested well over the festive holidays and I suffered no illnesses or setbacks," he added.
Voeckler's 2013 season will take a very similar shape to his 2012 campaign, with a possible appearance in the Tour of Flanders the only big difference. The Frenchman's main focus of the season will once again be the Tour de France, which last year saw Voeckler take two mountain stages and win the coveted polka dot jersey.
"I cycle because it gives me pleasure and because I do it well," a motivated Voeckler told Alsace.fr ahead of the new season. "There will be a moment when it doesn't go so well for me – I just hope that it's not this year. I don't feel that I'm ready to hang up my boots yet. I'm going to continue working hard.
As was the case last season, Team Europcar has missed out on a wild card place in the Giro d'Italia. But Jean-René Bernaudeau's men will get a chance to shine in both Milan-San Remo and the Giro di Lombardia one-day classics – two races Voeckler has stressed are high on his priority list.
Team Europcar 2013 squad: Yukiya Arashiro (Jap), Giovanni Bernaudeau (Fra), Franck Bouyer (Fra), Anthony Charteau (Fra), Sébastien Chavanel (Fra), Jérôme Cousin (Fra), Damien Gaudin (Fra), Cyril Gautier (Fra), Yohann Gène (Fra), Tony Hurel (Fra), Vincent Jérôme (Fra), Christophe Kern (Fra), Davide Malacarne (Ita), Alexandre Pichot (Fra), Perrig Quémeneur (Fra), Kévin Reza (Fra), Pierre Rolland (Fra), Björn Thurau (Dui), Angelo Tulik (Fra), Sébastien Turgot (Fra), David Veilleux (Can), Thomas Voeckler (Fra)
Out: Rafaâ Chtioui (Tun), Mathieu Claude (Fra), Saïd Haddou (Fra), Matteo Pelucchi (Ita)
In: Natnael Berhane (Eri), Bryan Coquard (Fra), Morgan Lamoisson (Fra)