Procycling - - PROLOGUE - SAM DAN­SIE SamDan­sieis deputy ed­i­tor Pro­cy­cling

Ste­fan Küng, Niki Terp­stra, An­dré Greipel: some big in­ter­na­tional names are head­ing to French teams in 2019. This is good news for those teams and rac­ing in gen­eral. High-cal­i­bre for­eign rid­ers on French teams have been a rar­ity. Af­ter the rash of new sign­ings, Marc Ma­diot, Groupa­maFDJ’s chief com­plained in L’Equipe that, “For a long time we didn’t have ac­cess to these rid­ers. Their agents didn’t come to see me.” If any­thing, some of the best French rid­ers looked to for­eign teams: Ju­lian Alaphilippe and War­ren Bar­guil’s ca­reers be­gan on Low Coun­tries squads. So what does the change of tide show? Prob­a­bly that the French teams have shed their rep­u­ta­tion as old school op­er­a­tors who lagged be­hind on mat­ters of sports science and train­ing. Also that the teams are sta­ble. Ag2r's bud­get is steady and in­creas­ing. At the start of the year, FDJ wel­comed Groupama as a head­line spon­sor on a three-year con­tract. Di­rect En­ergie said it wanted to join the World­Tour and how­ever un­likely that might be, it’s a sign of a sport in good health. But we shouldn’t get ahead of our­selves. For­tu­neoSam­sic picked up Greipel, 36, when Lotto Soudal re­placed him with a younger model. Quick-Step Floors, awash with tal­ent but with­out a spon­sor for 2019, couldn’t re­tain Flan­ders win­ner, Terp­stra. Küng comes from BMC, which un­der­went an ex­o­dus while the team hunted a spon­sor for 2019. I hope Küng and the rest of the new for­eign le­gion leads to more in­ter­na­tion­al­i­sa­tion at the French pro­fes­sional squads.

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