French fed wants national teams back at Tour de France

French federation president lays out plan for a national-teams format at the Tour and announced he'll run for European president

ROSNY-SOUS-BOIS, France (AFP) — The Federation French Cycling (FFC) said on Wednesday that it is in favor of a Tour de France contested by national teams, a “revolutionary project” according to its president, David Lappartient.

“The [Lance] Armstrong case gave the project more strength and more news,” said Lappartient during a press conference in Rosny-sous-Bois, during which he also announced the project to create a professional team of high-level multi-discipline riders, which he dubbed “the French Sky.”

“We need to find what makes the strength of cycling races, where unbridled scenarios are not written in advance,” he said of his Tour plan.

In its draft, 25 teams of eight riders, of all continents, would participate in the Tour.

The Tour’s national-teams format, which helped revive the Tour in 1930, was abandoned in the late 1960s.

Lappartient said he had submitted his project to Tour organizer ASO.

“The organizer has listened carefully; I have not been back to the moment,” he said.

Lappartient also said he has given the proposal to the UCI president Pat McQuaid.

A match with Tchmil

Lappartient, who has denied any attachment to cycling’s sordid past, also announced his candidacy for the presidency of the Confederation European cycling (UEC). Former Moldovan rider Andrei Tchmil has also announced that he will run.

The Frenchman did not exclude a possible candidacy in September to the presidency of the Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI), but has refrained from targeting McQuaid, criticized by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) and the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency (Usada) over his handling of the Armstrong case.

“I do not stand either for or against the president McQuaid. In the context of developing our sport, we must eradicate doping,” said Lappartient.

The Frenchman’s ambitious professional team program, which he hopes will “eventually be the first team in the world,” will have a budget of 20 million euros.

Specialists in five disciplines (road, track, mountain bike, BMX, cyclocross) would be included in the team, with a total of 60 riders, including men and women.

“The aim is not only to build a road team, but allow our athletes to live their sport,” said Lappartient. He was “resolutely optimistic to find a partner” for the project.

Lappartient said he would decided in June whether the team will launch in 2014, as he desires, or 2015.