The Tour de France announced the four wildcard teams today and new French outfit Vital Concept, the team of sprinter Bryan Coquard, missed the cut.
Tour boss Christian Prudhomme gave a “Oui” to French teams Cofidis, Direct Energie, Fortuneo-Samsic and Belgian outfit Wanty-Groupe Gobert and a big fat “Non” to Vital Concept.
“I’m sorry for a rider like Bryan Coquard, just like I was sorry for his absence last year,” Prudhomme told AFP. “The selection was more complicated than in previous years. In France alone, there are five Second Division teams going for four places on the Tour.”
Coquard said he was “disappointed” but the real story was why the young sprinter was so clueless and slow. His new team was never going to receive an invitation when they haven’t ridden a single race. That puts their “sporting characteristics” at zero.
After missing the Tour last year thanks to his messy divorce from Direct Energie — and team manager Jean-Rene Bernaudeau’s petty, mean-spirited attitude — Coquard should have been faster on the uptake when he chose a brand new team.
Want to ride the most prestigious and famous bike race in the world? Then sign for a WorldTour squad that gets an automatic invite or a high profile Pro Continental squad that has a strong track record of performances.
Basically, Coquard decided he’d rather ride with his Breton neighbors and friends at Vital Concept than advance his career but stepping up to a bigger challenge and a brighter stage. Hey, we appreciate the loyalty and keep-it-local attitude but then don’t complain when you miss Paris, the City of Lights.
Fellow Breton Warren Barguil could take the risk of signing for Fortuneo-Samsic and still score a wild card. After all, he’d won two mountain stages and the polka jersey in the 2017 Tour. Meanwhile, all Coquard had to bank on was stage wins in the Vuelta a Andalucía and Volta a la Comunitat Valenciana. Not quite the same pitch deck.
In short, the second he signed with Vital Concept, he killed his hopes of a Tour ride. Now, from what we’ve read over the last few years, Coquard is a nice and classy guy and we wish him nothing but the best. However, from a career perspective, he blew it, choosing the comforts of his home region in France and then basically praying and begging his way into a Tour invite. Ca marche pas, mon pote. (His ex-team manager Bernaudeau must be having a laugh.)
Back when Vital Concept manager Jerome Pineau signed Coquard, he said “We want to start winning as soon as possible. We hope to take part in the biggest race and our goal is to be at the 2018 Tour de France.”
Hey, always good to aim high. We’re just surprised a sprinter like Bryan Coquard was not quick to realize he was going to miss his home grand tour for two years in a row.