Preview of the 2022 team: the men of Cofidis
Director: Cedric Vasseur
Squad Size: 31
Middle age: 28.2
Cofidis is one of the oldest teams and sponsors in the current peloton, having started life in 1996, briefly signing Lance Armstrong before the American was diagnosed with cancer.
During these early years Frank Vandenbroucke, Philippe Gaumont and Francesco Casagrande achieved victories in classics like Liège-Bastogne-Liège, Gand-Wevelgem and Clásica San Sebastián while Bobby Julich finished on the podium of the Tour de France 1998 David Millar also rode for Cofidis, but a French doping investigation revealed the team’s problems and Millar served a two-year suspension after confessing to doping.
Today, the team continues to seek out their first high-level stage race or first classic victory since their early successes and turn-fueled debuts. In recent years, success has come more often at the level of Coupe de France races, with three Grand Tour stage wins and a climber’s jersey in the past four seasons. The last of their ten stage victories in the Tour de France dates back to 2008.
Former rider Cédric Vasseur is at the head of the team for 2022 after taking charge at the end of 2017, in the footsteps of Yvon Sanquer, Eric Boyer, Alain Bondue and Cyrille Guimard.
After a very lean 2020 year that saw only two wins, there was a recovery in 2021 as the team scored 12 wins, including Victor Lafay’s breakaway success at the Giro d’Italia.
The team has one of the smallest budgets in the WorldTour and has a proportionate team, far from the riches of mega-teams like Ineos Grenadiers, Jumbo-Visma and UAE Team Emirates. Indeed, nine of their victories are transferred to these teams for 2022 while Elia Viviani and Christophe Laporte leave.
Naturally, there has been a major rebuild as two of the team’s tallest runners start, with eight other runners heading for the gate as 13 join in. Other notable starts are Nathan Haas (on gravel), Fabio Sabatini (retired) and Natnael Berhane.
Multiple winner of the WorldTour stage race (and winner of the Giro-Tour-Vuelta stage), Ion Izagirre tops the list with French sprinter Bryan Coquard. Italian fastman Davide Cimolai is also in the game, as well as his compatriot Davide Villella and time trials Max Walscheid and Benjamin Thomas.
How did they behave in 2021?
World ranking: 15th
Christophe Laporte, Guillaume Martin and Elia Viviani were the team’s best players in 2021 according to the UCI rider ranking, the trio representing 4,070 of Cofidis’ 5,481 points.
The versatile Laporte has won four victories – the Circuit de Wallonie, the GP de Wallonie and the Etoile de Bessèges and Tour du Limousin stages – while also taking second place at Dwars door Vlaanderen, stage 19 of the Tour de France , two stages from Paris-Nice, and finishing sixth at Paris-Roubaix.
The Frenchman is heading to Jumbo-Visma after spending his entire career to date with Cofidis, and team boss Vasseur is hopeful that new signing Coquard can replace him – a tall order given the fortunes of the two drivers. in recent seasons.
Meanwhile, Ineos-linked Viviani bounced back from a winless 2020 with seven wins, including a pair of stages at the Adriatica Ionica Race (for Italy) and the Tour Poitou-Charentes as well as the race. of a day ProSeries, the GP Fourmies.
The Italian did not perform as expected at Cofidis, although it still looks like Cofidis has downgraded to the sprint department for 2022.
Guillaume Martin, who won’t be leaving the team but is now entering the final year of his three-year contract, placed in the top 10 in the Tour de France and Vuelta a España, finishing eighth in the last and ninth in the first. . – his best results of his career on the Grand Tour so far. In 2021, he also won the Classic Alpes-Maritimes and finished sixth at Paris-Nice. In short, a very good year for him.
The relatively unknown Victor Lafay scored the team’s biggest win of the season, taking the famous stage 8 breakaway victory against Guardia Sanframondi. This result came a few weeks after taking fourth place in the overall standings and the youth standings at the Volta Valenciana, while in August he finished third at the Arctic Race of Norway, also winning the mountain standings. . He is one to watch this season.
Elsewhere, Jesùs Herrada scored the team’s only other victory of the season, taking victory at the Trofeo Serra de Tramuntana in May. The Spaniard also finished second in the Route d’Occitanie, a stage of the Vuelta, and was also narrowly edged for the Spanish road title.
Other notable results around the team include the rides of Simone Consonni (second in stage 18 of the Giro), Piet Allegaert (second at Tro-Bro Léon), Anthony Perez (winner of the KOM at Paris-Nice) and Pierre-Luc Périchon (second in Paris-Camembert).
Guillaume Martin: The 28-year-old Frenchman is the absolute leader of the team heading into 2022. While the climber may not be a prolific winner, having won two in the past three seasons, he will be the leader. of the team’s stage race throughout the year, able to score. good results in the general classification of race 1.1 at the Grand Tours.
In 2021, he had his best campaign to date with top 10s on both the Tour and the Vuelta as well as in Paris-Nice, with a Vuelta podium that even seems possible halfway through after winning. time in a breakaway in step 10.
This year he will be looking to build on that once again by heading towards the Giro and the Tour, as well as running Tirreno-Adriatico, the Volta a Catalunya and Liège-Bastogne-Liège. A Grand Tour podium is probably out of reach for Martin, but a stage victory and a top five would represent further progress and a very successful year for him.
Bryan coquard: Comes Viviani, a sprinter who has not lived up to his expectations during his two years at Cofidis, and comes Coquard, a sprinter who has garnered a victory in the last two seasons. The 29-year-old has spent the last four years at B&B Hotels and has yet to match a 2016 season that saw him dominate in France, scoring 13 wins in races like Etoile de Bessèges, 4 Jours de Dunkerque , and Route du Sud.
Such results, which saw him finish in the top 20 of the UCI ranking with 1719 points that season, would be more than welcome in 2022, even if they are not WorldTour races. The first task, however, will be to get him back on the path to victory, with Coquard having won 10 podiums in a row since his last triumph.
It remains to be seen whether he will be able to break through at the WorldTour level. Coquard has yet to win at this level in his career – having won five Tour de France stage podiums – and at his age it looks like a big step forward seems unlikely.
Ion Izagirre: The Spanish time trial champion is the second of two new major signings for the new season, after joining Astana. He has already achieved stage victories in all three Grand Tours to his name and has experience of stage victory in the Tour of Poland and in the Basque Country Itzulia.
Last year, he won a stage in this race and took 10th place in the general classification in addition to finishing 3rd in Paris-Nice, and 7th in the Tour de Romandie and the Critérium du Dauphiné. In the Tour, he took – a distance certainly far – second place on stage 8 behind Dylan Teuns.
Izagirre is now 32 but shows no signs of slowing down and is a very good addition to the squad given his background in stage races and stage hunting. He’s only on board for one season so far, despite being one of the underrated signings of the offseason and his WorldTour pedigree should seriously bolster the team’s results sheet in 2022. and earning points as they battle for a place in the 2023 WorldTour.
Whether you classify this as a strength or a weakness is up to you, but the team has a handful of established leaders and therefore the team’s goals for the season should be clear even at this early stage of the year.
There are Martin and Izagirre to focus on stage hunting and the overall standings of stage races and Grand Tours, while Coquard will be the number one sprinter throughout the year with the Tour on his list of achievements. .
The team has other riders in the squad who can deliver results here and there throughout the year – see Lafay, Herrada, Cimolai, Villella and more – but the Big Three should lead the way and the rest. from the list will be clear in their support of the key leaders.
On top of that, they’re a pretty thin team. Last year, Cofidis’ top three riders collected 75 percent of their collective UCI points and 83 percent of their victories. Realistically, the team will again depend on a handful of runners to be successful in 2022.
This is of course not a unique characteristic among the teams in the peloton, although it is still a weakness. Nonetheless, an untimely fall, injury or loss of form for any of Martin, Izagirre or Coquard could have a significant adverse effect on the team’s season, potentially vital given that 2022 marks the end of the season. current WorldTour license.
It is certainly a very different Cofidis team for 2022 with almost half of a team of new faces. But it’s hard to say if the squad is stronger for the coming season.
The loss of Laporte is significant, although Izagirre is an important addition, and an out of the ordinary Viviani is replaced by an out of the ordinary Coquard. In the rest of the squad, Cimolai, Villella, Walscheid and Thomas look like breakthroughs from those leaving, but not massive.
The safest bet for Cofidis this season is one like the last – a handful of big results and wins translating into a “lower than intermediate” finish in the year-end standings.