The 25-year-old debuted with Team Sky in 2018, and won a stage at Coppi e Bartali in 2018, and the overall title of the Tour of Yorkshire in 2019. The move will mark his first time with a French-speaking team, and he’s hoping to have more room to spread his wings.
“It’s a bit of a leap into the unknown because I’ve always been on English speaking teams with teammates I knew well,” Lawless said. “I can’t wait to take on these new challenges and see what this team can do for me.”
Jean-René Bernaudeau, manager of Total Direct Énergie, said the team wants to give Lawless more opportunities.
“The recruitment of Chris is a real big ‘coup’ in this transfer window. He is a very talented rider, with a strong character and a great spirit,” the Frenchman said. “He appreciated our offensive speech and wants to be able to express himself in a team that gives him the opportunity.”
Lawless is the latest signing for the French team, which plans to remain at the second tier for 2021. Its recruitment class for 2021 also includes high-profile riders Pierre Latour, Alexis Vuillermoz and Alexandre Geniez (all Ag2r-La Mondiale), and Víctor de la Parte (CCC Team).
Bernaudeau hinted the team might still be on the market for a few more riders before closing out its 2021 roster, with an eye toward signing an experienced road captain and a sprinter.
Lawless, meanwhile, said he’s relishing the chance to have more opportunities to race for himself than he might have seen on the talent-rich Ineos Grenadiers.
“I want to improve even further in the classics,” Lawless said. “I felt this year that I had taken a step forward and that I was able to run even more in these races. Along with Niki Terpstra, I will be able to learn even more and always go further. I don’t know exactly what my role will be yet but I do know that I have a lot to learn from the experience of other riders. I think I will have the opportunity to go for more victories on my own.”