Rous signs with Cofidis, leaves BBox/Europcar setup after eleven years
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Tuesday, January 04, 2011

Rous signs with Cofidis, leaves BBox/Europcar setup after eleven years

by Shane Stokes at 6:06 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling
 
Jean Rene Bernaudeau says departure was unexpected

Didier RousFormer French professional and current directeur sportif Didier Rous has signed a deal to work with the Cofidis team, making the move after departing from the BBox Bouygues Telecom/Europcar setup.

Rous had worked with Jean Rene Bernaudeau’s squad for the past eleven years; he did so firstly as a rider, racing with various incarnations of the team from 2000 until the end of 2007 and, after his retirement on health grounds, coming on board as part of the management.

A source close to the team confirmed to VeloNation on Tuesday that his resignation was linked to a move to another big French squad. “Didier has signed with Cofidis, it's a done deal,” they said.

The move sees Rous join former team-mate Stephane Augé, who was confirmed this week as retiring from competition and going into management.

Roux has been an important part of Bernaudeau’s setup ever since he joined the team. He went there after admitting to doping in the Festina Affair, making a fresh start with a team which itself avoided any hint of scandal. He won the French championship for them in 2001 and 2003, and also took three editions of the Trophée des Grimpeurs, the overall classifications of the Circuit de la Sarthe and the Four Days of Dunkirk, plus the GP Ouest France, the prologue of the Critérium du Dauphiné Libéré and finished 11th overall in the Tour de France.

After his retirement he became a respected directeur sportif but, according to Ouest France, the two fell out over clashes of opinions on what role Rous should play. He apparently wanted a bigger say in the recruitment of riders, as well as having other differences.

“With him it’s black or white,” said Bernaudeau. “Didier called me on December 28th last, I was in hospital after an operation on the gallbladder. I was surprised by his intention, as Didier was preparing for the season with us since Europcar joined us as our new partner. It’s his choice. It’s the end of a beautiful common story."

For Rous, though, it’s a new beginning with Cofidis and one he wants to seize. The team lost out on an almost-certain ProTour licence this season when Thomas Voeckler opted at the last minute not to sign. It was suggested afterwards that he was effectively blackmailed, with the rider reportedly being called after he had made the decision to move and being told by Europcar’s chief that the deal depended on him being there.

Cofidis is making a big push to secure a ProTeam licence for 2012 and will hope that the signings of Rous and Augé will be followed by a very successful season.

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