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“It’s a great reward for our efforts these past few months. In spite of our slender means, we’ve been very shrewd in our recruitment," team president Loïc Drouard tells L’Équipe




29.01.2014 @ 13:56 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

After years of unsuccessful attempt, Bretagne-Seche Environnement were finally invited to the Tour de France when organizers ASO awarded their wildcards yesterday. While the team is overjoyed to have made the selection, race director Christian Prudhomme underlines their recruitment of the Feillu brothers and ASO's desire to support French cycling as the main reasons for the invitation.


Since joining the pro continental ranks in 2011, the Breton team Bretagne-Seche Environnement have always dreamt about being invited to the Tour de France. With limited resources and several French teams fighting for the coveted wildcards, however, the team was unsuccessful in its first three attempts.


Yesterday the stars finally aligned when Tour organizers ASO announced the invitations for this year's edition of the world's biggest race. The Breton team will be on the start line in Leeds come July and will be joined by fellow pro continental teams IAM, NetApp-Endura, and Cofidis.


The selection comes as little surprise as ASO have always been keen to support French cycling. Last year all three wildcards were awarded to French teams, with Europcar, Sojasun and Cofidis joining ProTeam Ag2r-La Mondiale and FDJ in the line-up.


With Europcar having been promoted to the highest division and so earning themselves an automatic nomination and Vacansoleil, Euskaltel and Sojasun having all folded, there were less competition for the 2014 wildcards. With only 2 French pro continental teams and ASO being unlikely to give more than half of their invitations to foreign teams, Bretagne were one of the favourites to get into the big race.


Nonetheless, yesterday's announcement came as a big relief.

"It's a great satisfaction," Daniel Gilles, Vice President of the Regional Council in Bretagne said. "The team worked for this purpose and then it can only be a reward. There is now a great challenge ahead. Bretagne jerseys will be in the most beautiful race, in the world in the Breton cycling country of which we are so proud. I'm happy for the entire team that I hope will reinvigorate the heydays of Breton cycling like their predecessors have done before."


In 2013 the team were tested by ASO who invited them for the Criterium du Dauphiné. Since then they have made a number of reinforcements, with the signings of brothers Romain and Brice Feillu, Anthony Delaplace and Christophe Laborie.


Race director Christian Prudhomme pointed to Brice Feillu who won a big mountain stage of the 2009 Tour de France in Andorra, as the key signing that opened the door.


“The team has reinforced itself well. With the signing of a former stage winner [Brice Feillu], their candidacy became serious,” he told AFP. “We felt this was a motivated team, with established riders, who had been a candidate for a long time. And it was also a way for the Tour de France to express its support for French cycling.”


Feillu has since failed to reach similar heights while riding for teams like Vacansoleil, Leopard-Trek, and Sojasun. Having been reunited with brother Romain who wore the yellow jersey for a day in 2008, he hopes to show off his climbing legs come July.


“It’s a great reward for our efforts these past few months,” team president Loïc Drouard told L’Équipe. “In spite of our slender means, we’ve been very shrewd in our recruitment.


"My last day in the office ends rather fantastic," he added. " I am happy for the whole team and staff as well as the partners who have always supported us. But also for all Breton fans, and I am especially happy for the company Seche Environnement. Thank you ASO for his confidence. We hope to be up for the challenge and I am sure we will be fighting like warriors."


Sports director Emanuel Hubert is convinced that his team will be up to the challenge.


“It’s super for the Bretagne-Séché Environnement team,” he said. “There is a strong group here, one with values. And I know that the team – the riders and the staff alike – will show itself at the 2014 Tour de France. Now it’s up to us to work and get results.”


After missing the race twice in a row, Romain Feillu is happy to be back in his big home race.


"It's great, it gives us a lot of confidence," he said. "We have the desire to do well, to be worthy of our invitation. I'm happy to enjoy the atmosphere of the Tour de France but also to take the responsibilities that lie ahead. We will create a surprise and the Feillu duo is ready to meet this challenge."


One of the team's best riders is former junior world champion Arnaud Gerard who underlined the importance of the early invitation which has been announced much earlier than usual.


"This is really good news for Bretagne-Seche Environnement," he said. "We did not expect it to be decided so early. It's better for the team to know it earlier. I've tasted the Tour de France once and it is true that we want to perform there. It really is the highlight of the cycling season."


The team may not have a genuine GC contenders in its ranks but one of the riders who could shine in the mountains with Brice Feillu, is Florian Guillou who will be up for hus Tour debut


"I'm really happy. It is a dream come true," he said. "All my preparation was made with the Tour de France in mind. Throughout the season it will be good to know that he have made the selection. Everything is designed to make it possible for us to give out best. This is really a good opportunity for our Bretagne-Seche Environnement team"


The team only won 4 fraces in 2013, all at a lower level. Historically, sprinter Florian Vachon has been one of their best riders and he is ready to put in the hard work that will make his first Tour a success.

"We are pleased to be invited to the Tour de France, it is a great satisfaction," he said. "We have expected it for several years. This year we are finally there. But the job is not done yet. We will not just ride through the event. We will be up for the challenge."



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