Longtime considered the heir-apparent to Romain Bardet at France’s powerful AG2R-La Mondiale team, Pierre Latour finally opted to sign with Total Direct Energie. Only 26, Latour is considered one of the best French riders of his generation after winning the white jersey for the best young rider in the 2018 Tour de France as well as a stage in the Vuelta a España. But a series of injuries have marred his progress the past two seasons.
This year, in fact, he was scheduled to lead the team at the Tour de France, while Bardet planned to focus on the Giro d’Italia. But that changed as the coronavirus crisis forced a complete overhaul of the cycling calendar. And with time to reflect, Latour finally opted to move on.
“After six years under the same jersey, I felt the need to strike a new challenge and I am happy to begin a new chapter of my career with Total Direct Energie,” Pierre Latour announce on his Instagram page.
And for the Total-Direct Energie Team, Latour’s arrival is nothing less than a coup. “He is just the rider we need,” Jean-René Bernadeau, the team’s general manager told the French sports daily l’Equipe. “He’s a great time trial rider and has been the best young rider in the Tour of Catalonia, the Tour of Romandie, the Critérium du Dauphiné and the Tour de France, all World Tour races. That’s pretty extraordinary!”
For the AG2R team, Latour’s departure potentially signals major changes as longtime leader Romain Bardet is reportedly considering numerous options, and is often linked to a potential move to the German Sunweb team.
Such a move would eliminate two potential leaders stage race leader, only days after the team announced the arrival of the French automotive leader Citroën as a major new co-sponsor. But the arrival of such a prestigious new partner will undoubtedly open doors for future recruits. “For our team, it certainly opens up new perspectives as we are working with a long-term vision,” Vincent Lavenu, the team’s general manager told the French daily Le Dauphiné Libéré. “We really want to live a really progression together.”
While Lavenu said that the team will firstly reinforce its development program, the sponsorship will certainly have effects on the team’s direction. While no major stage race rider has been linked to the French team, many news sources are reporting that the team could well sign Greg Van Avermaet, who is a close friend and training partner with Oliver Naesen, and would seriously boost the team’s classics credentials. Although, with the arrival of a sponsor like Citroën, the team could well reinforce on both the one-day and stage race fronts.