A day after the Team Arkea-Samsic roster for Paris-Nice (March 10-17) was unveiled, our two leaders Warren Barguil and Andre Greipel are happy to be racing together for the first time as they both have great ambitions. Their sports director Yvon Ledanois is confident that he assembled a balanced and talented team. Bram Welten, who turns 22 in a few days, and the 23-year-old Elie Gesbert will notably play a key role for their leaders.
Warren Barguil : “I go into Paris-Nice in good form. I knew that the Tour de La Provence was a little setback, it’s always hard to explain to a general audience, but I continued to prepare thoroughly. I took a big tumble in the Classic de l’Ardeche, but I showed I was there on Sunday in the Drome Classic. The level will be high on Paris-Nice but I feel good. We will need to be focused everyday to be on the attack on the second weekend and claim a good overall result, that’s what we are here for. In the first stages Andre and I will be protecting each other so that he can play a role in the sprints and so that I don’t lose time. I cant wait to race with him.
In echelons, I’ve always been helped by German sprinters (laughter). I saw the work he did for Elie Gesbert at the Tour of Oman, it’s fantastic ! He knows he can also count on me. If I’m alone with him and we need to bridge a gap, he knows I will work for him.”
Andre Greipel : “I’m always impatient ahead of a big event like Paris-Nice, where you have to prove yourself. It will be my first race in France with a French team. I will have three opportunities, the first three stages, to raise my arms. In ‘’Pipich’’ (Laurent Pichon) and Bram (Welten) I have good allies. Having already won two stages on Paris-Nice (in 2015 and 2017), I have good memories there but when I start a race I always want to finish it. In 2017 I ended up 58th in the GC which is not too bad for a sprinter ! It will also be my first race with Warren. He was good on Sunday, he’s a rider who always fights and who can get us a good GC result.
Yvon Ledanois, sports director : “Paris-Nice is the first big test of the season, our first World Tour stage race this season. It’s important to make a good impression. I think we made a balanced choice regarding our two leaders. We’re getting close to having our established team. Our two leaders are Andre Greipel for the sprints and Warren Barguil for the mountains but they will be helping each other in the lead-up to the sprints and before the climbs. in to the climbs. We count on Maxime Bouet who has recovered from his crash at the Tour de La Provence and on Amael Moinard to protect their leaders, to stay with Warren in the hilly stages. in the mountains we also obviously count on Elie Gesbert who just had a very good Tour of Oman. For the sprints we picked Laurent Pichon to fight for position before Bram Welten who will be Andre Greipel’s lead-out man. Bram is a young sprinter who is inexperienced at the high level but we chose Paris-Nice to take the great leap. It’s a necessary foundation to improve. It’s his second year in the team and we believe in him. It’s the time to see how he fares on a very high-level stage race, how he deals with fatigue, to see him in intense and also difficult moments. For us it’s a real test before we can contemplate having him ride a grand tour. Bram, who comes from the Netherlands, joined the team when he was 20 and he quickly took up French. He blended well in the team and has no communication problems. I cannot wait to see what he can bring to the squad at the highest level.”