Who are the sponsor? Europcar are a hire care company working across Europe.
2012 Ranking: Were not in WorldTour 2012
Past Stars: Pierik Fedrigo, Sylvain Chavanel
Selected Team Palmares: 2012 Tour de France King of the Mountains (Thomas Voeckler), Stages, Tour de France, (Thomas Voeckler x 4, 2009, 2010, 2012×2, Pierre Rolland x 2, 2011, 2012)
Brief Team History: In their current iteration, Europcar are held together by the thread of Thomas Voeckler, who has been at the team his whole career since it as Bonjour when he took yellow in 2004 for 10 days. He didn’t actually win a stage until 2009, by which time the team had become Bouygues Telecom. They then became Europcar in 2011 and instantly got a return on their investment when Voeckler held yellow for another week, and looked briefly like he could win the Tour, before an ill-judged-in-hindsight attempt to chase Schleck and Contador on the Galibier made him lose the jersey on Alpe d’Huez and finish 4th overall. It emerged that Voeckler had single handedly saved the team when it was revealed Europcar would only commit if he was on the team.
Last year: Expectations were obviously going to be high after Voecklers heroics, but the team managed to deliver, with Pierre Rolland improving on his 1oth place in 2011 by riding to 8th and a stage win at the Tour, whilst Voeckler took a further two wins and the King of the Mountains. He’d had an excellent early season as well, winning the first Ardenne classic before coming in the top 5 at Liege. Sebastian Turgot even came second in Paris Roubiax by a hairs breadth. But the Tour is what their season is built around, and they were very successful there.
Transfer dealings: Theyve brought in Bryan Coquard, but otherwise its little known French riders coming in and out.
Who are the star riders? Could it be anyone else but Thomas Voeckler? The multi talented Frenchman can climb hills, mountains, heck even time trial when he wants to, and has managed a solid return for the teams investment. Then there’s his understudy, Pierre Rolland, a winner on Alpe d’Huez who is slowly climbing the rankings in the Tour. Sebastian Turgot needs a bit more to consistency to back up his 2nd in Paris Roubaix. They have another King of the Mountains winner in Anthony Charteau, but he’s done little since that title.
Fashion Police: Europcar’s smart green has always been a winner, even if black is encroaching on their jersey, and they’ve added an odd swirl on the belly for some reason. Still one of the better efforts though.
What are their targets? The Tour de France, as always. Voeckler may try to defend the King of the Mountains, but will want a stage at least, whilst Rolland wants to be in the top 5. Voeckler may have a go at Liege Bastonge Liege as well.
What are they likely to achieve? Rolland should get into the top 10 again, but the top 5 will be crowded this year. Europcar will surely get a stage from somewhere though, and light up the race throughout.
Components: Italian’s Colnago supply the frames for this team, who ride Campagnolo as well. Excellent choices.
The Big Question(s): Can Rolland step up from the 10th-6th into the top 5 of the Tour or even beyond?