The Arkea-Samsic team is pleased to unveil its sprinters pole, starring Nacer Bouhanni and Thomas Boudat. Daniel McLay returns in a new role of lead-out rider after two seasons abroad. In the last kilometres, the team will rely on two young Belgian recruits: Christophe Noppe and Benjamin Declercq. Poland’s Lukasz Owsian is also a new addition to the team. Bram Welten, Connor Swift and Clément Russo have also been added to the 2020 sprinters’ pole.
Emmanuel Hubert – general manager : « In 2020, we want to be like a World Tour team. We know that 70% of the races end up in a sprint; we had to strengthen the team in that department. For a sprinter, every detail matters and I will rely on Sébastien Hinault to coordinate. Nacer Bouhanni will be our number one sprinter. He has huge qualities. He has been through two difficult years, he must regain confidence and bond with the riders who will launch his sprints. We have recalled Dan McLay, whom we know well, to support him in the final straights, I think there is a good potential chemistry between the two. We aim to be competitive on several fronts. Thomas Boudat will have all the freedom to express himself. I believe we are presenting a full group with great sprinting potential. Our riders are ready to work a lot this winter to put the everything in place and be efficient on race days. »
How are you approaching the 2020 season?
« I am very happy to race for Arkea-Samsic in the coming seasons. For me, it’s a new beginning. I will start the season as if I had never won anything. I did not ask to come with a specific staff or specific riders, I want to focus on myself, for the rest I trust the management of the team. »
Did you think about quitting cycling after two complicated seasons?
« I’ve had significant falls and disappointments over the course of my career, but cycling is my life. I am passionate ! I have been riding since I was 6. Riding brought me a lot, I could not give up. When I was doing well as a young rider I would head ‘Bouhanni has had results this year but next season we won’t hear about him anymore.’ I grew with that, it’s part of me. I respond to criticism on the bike, that’s what I do. »
What do you think about this image of a bad boy that you have? « I have character, I will not deny it but I think that it is the case for all top athletes. Over the years, I learn, I evolve, I made mistakes in my career — in the way I communicated or behaved — but I’m not a bad boy. At first glance I am rather reserved, even shy, yet I like the contact. I immediately had a good feeling with Emmanuel. It played a big part in my decision. »
What are your goals for the next season? « Some races make me dream: Milan-Sanremo, a stage on the Tour, but for now I just want to win. This year is the first year I haven’t won as a pro. I want to get back to my winning ways and grow with the team. »
« The Arkea-Samsic project was appealing to me. The team has been improving year after year and it is an exciting project for climbers and sprinters, it’s motivating for everyone. I’m still young and I want to find my place, to prove that I can win good races. Like a lot of riders, I dream of a Tour de France stage win, we all work for that. The management will allow me to perform individually on some races. Next year, my goal will be to get results quickly. I’m not a pure sprinter, I like when races are hard because I go up the hills pretty well. This year for instance I won from breakaways. I adapt to race strategies easily and at the end of the day, who cares how I win if I win. »
« I’m really happy to be back in the team. I’be got great memories here, especially from 2016 when I finished third in a Tour de France stage. Then I spent two seasons at Education first, I wanted to discover the World Tour but unfortunately those were not my two best years. In this structure that I know, I hope to get back to the level I had in 2017. My main objective will be to help the sprinters’ group. Claiming an individual win is something strong but help someone else win is equally strong ! When everything goes well in a sprint and you lead your sprinter out to put him in the best conditions, it’s also exciting. I don’t know Nacer very well but I think that together we can go very fast. »
« After meeting with Emmanuel Hubert, I did not hesitate a second. It is an honour to join the Arkea-Samsic team and to compete with its great leaders. My role will be to help the sprinters. I can ride fast in the last kilometre. I also like classics: cobblestones are my thing. On Paris-Roubaix, a day when everything is fine, I know that I can go for a nice result. I will give everything I have to get the best result possible, for the sprinters or on the classics. Personally, I do not know many riders of the team … but I went on holidays in Brittany! It’s the beginning of an adventure for me. »
« I am happy, proud and impatient to ride for Arkea-Samsic! With my brother Tim Declercq, who rides with Deceuninck-Quick Step, we played football at first. But in Belgium, we are quickly caught up in cycling. Even if we do not come from a family of cyclists, we have always watched the classics and the Tour de France on television. I live in Flanders, inevitably I feel pretty comfortable on the cobblestones. Next year, my goal will be to prepare the best sprints for my leaders and to play my card on the classics. I hope to spring surprises. I got a master in Economy before I turned 100% to cycling and I’m loving it. »
« This is a big change in my career since since I turned professional in 2012, I have always been with the CCC team. I believe that with Arkea-Samsic I can reach a new level. I am very motivated, I want to show who I am. I like the hilly races and especially I like to ride fast for a long time, whether at the head of the pack or in the breakaways. I will do everything to help the team to get good results. I do not speak French yet but it is an opportunity to learn a new language — one of cycling’s many opportunities. I still live in Poland but in the winter I go to Spain often because in my country it snows a lot and it’s hard to train well there. »