Cofidis are to launch a women’s team in 2022. The announcement was made by Cofidis team president Thierry Vittu on Friday morning during an online presentation of the men’s and paracycling squads for the coming season.
“I have the habit of saying that a sports team should be a representation of the Cofidis company. We have the men’s pro team and the paracycling section, and they reflect a good part of what the Cofidis company is, but it’s a group of 5,500 people in which the majority are women. So something is missing,” Vittu said.
“We will have a women’s team as part of the Cofidis group from 2022. It won’t be this year because we need time to put it together and gather the resources, but in 2022 we will certainly have one.”
Cofidis will become the eighth men’s WorldTour team to have an affiliated women’s squad, following Team DSM, Movistar, BikeExchange, Trek-Segafredo, Jumbo-Visma and Lotto Soudal, as well as Groupama-FDJ, who share resources with FDJ Nouvelle-Aquitaine Futuroscope.
Vittu conceded that the men’s team had endured a “disappointing” debut season at WorldTour level in 2020.
Cofidis failed to win a WorldTour race in 2020 and claimed just two in total. Attilio Viviani won a stage of La Tropicale Amissa Bongo in January, while Anthony Perez added a stage of the Tour des Alpes Maritimes et du Var the following month. Cofidis didn’t land a single win after the season resumed in August after a hiatus due to the coronavirus pandemic.
There were some encouraging signs, however, from new arrival Guillaume Martin, who placed third overall at the Critérium du Dauphiné and rode impressively at the Tour de France en route to 11th overall. He later played a key role in helping Julian Alaphilippe win the World Championships and he was king of the mountains at the Vuelta a España.
“It was quite a good year, but I haven’t raised my arms in victory yet with Cofidis and there’s a collective objective for us all to raise our arms more this season,” Martin said.
“When you’re a sportsperson when you’re a cyclist, it’s what you want above all. It was a strange year, but I felt all year that something was building with the climbers on the team and we want to continue in that direction this season.”
The team’s other marquee signing, Elia Viviani, had a disappointing debut season for Cofidis after he and his lead-out failed to fire on all cylinders. The Italian sprinter resolved to improve in 2021, citing Milan-San Remo as an early objective.
“2020 was really a strange year but that is not an excuse because a lot of riders won races,” said Viviani.
“It was strange, really strange for me to have this feeling of not winning races. We’ve spoken a lot about the season, what we did well, what we did wrong, and we’ll use all this experience to go to the next season.”