Jean-René Bernadeau welcomes the first two Italians to Team Europcar
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Sunday, December 25, 2011

Jean-René Bernadeau welcomes the first two Italians to Team Europcar

by Ben Atkins at 5:42 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling
Davide Malacarne and Matteo Pelucchi expected to add strength and flavour to almost totally French team

team europcar2012 will see two Italian riders join the French Europcar team: Davide Malacarne, who has been with Quick Step since joining as a stagiaire in 2008, and Matteo Pelucchi, who was a first year pro with Geox-TMC in 2011. For the team, which began in 2000 as Bonjour, these two will be the first riders from south of the Alps, and team manager Jean-René Bernadeau welcomes them with open arms.

With a history of French sponsors, the Vendée-based team has been almost entirely French over the years, with room for very few foreigners. In 2011 the only two from outside the “Hexagon” were Japanese rider Yukiya Arashiro, and French-Canadian David Vielleux.

Bernadeau, who won the Grand Prix du Midi Libre four times in the 1980s, regards Malacarne as "a rider with a big future.”

“He loves the Flanders and Ardennes races," added Bernaudeau. "He's already been speaking a lot about Liège-Bastogne-Liège."

So far Malacarne’s biggest result came when he won the fifth stage of the Volta a Catalunya in 2010; his season was truncated though, by a crash in the closing straight of the Flèche Brabançonne (Brabantse Pijl), which saw him fracture his forearm and wrist, and a bout of mononucleosis, which saw him suffer through to the end of the season.

"It was really frustrating for me and I hope I never have to deal with such bad luck again in my career," said the Italian.

2011 saw a return to form for the 24-year-old though, who rode both the Giro d’Italia and Vuelta a España, managing to stay with the top climbers for long periods in the latter. This gives the team confidence that the former cyclocross rider will add strength to the team in races like the Tour de France.

"He's already dreaming about working hard for Thomas Voeckler,” said Bernadeau. “He's an extremely honest rider, ready to sacrifice himself for the collective need. I wanted to bring in rider who would strengthen our togetherness, and with him I have not taken any risks. We've already seen how happy he is to be here from our training week in Guadeloupe."

Pelucchi is a different kind of rider however, who joins the team as an addition to Sébastien Chavanel, its only sprinter in 2011. The 22-year-old took victory in February’s Clásica de Almeria in his debut season, defeating a number of top sprinters, including Movistar’s Juan José Rojas and Rabobank’s three-time World champion Oscar Freire.

"He's from a good family and has had a good education," Bernaudeau said. "The behaviour of my riders is very important to me – and on a sporting plane, he's also very strong."

Like many young Italian riders, Pelucchi has a background on the track, having taken the bronze medal in the 2007 junior World Keirin championship.

“Riders with good records on the track are often excellent 'puncheurs'," said Bernaudeau, adding that Pelucchi "will be interested in many different types of races".

"He's a rider in the making. From now on he's going to have to prove his potential. It will only be his second season as a professional and he's going to have to get used to an entirely new team. It's up to him now."

As well as Malacarne and Pelucchi – and Arashiro and Veilleux, who are staying on – the team is also adding Tunisian Rafaâ Chtioui and German Björn Thurau to its international ranks.


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