Cédric Vasseur: We don’t want Julian Alaphilippe to come to Cofidis as a retirement home

Team boss admits he can’t make a mistake in the transfer market with his squad’s WorldTour future on the line but there’s clear interest and admiration in ‘champion’ Alaphilippe

Clock16:20, Tuesday 23rd April 2024
Julian Alaphilippe has been linked to several teams, including Cofidis

© Getty Images

Julian Alaphilippe has been linked to several teams, including Cofidis

Cédric Vasseur knows that the next few months will be vital as his Cofidis squad tries to stave off relegation from the UCI WorldTour, and that his activity in the transfer market could be pivotal to their survival.

Cofidis' men's team are yet to win this year and sit 20th on the latest UCI rankings, two places below safety if relegation were to be decided today, but with the final rankings taken at the end of 2025, team boss Vasseur has time to turn things around.

The former Tour de France yellow jersey wearer's first priority will be to inspire his 2024 roster to turn some of their top-five and top-10 placings into victories, but he is also scouring the market for talent that can transform his team next season.

Julian Alaphilippe and Kasper Asgreen (both Soudal Quick-Step) have been linked to the team, with Vasseur confirming a level of interest in each rider. However, the 53-year-old is also well aware that both riders have not performed to their full potential in 2024 and that signing either athlete would be a risk given the budget requirements that would be needed to attract such high-calibre transfers.

“In an interview, I said Julian was a champion, not just a rider, and I really respect him. As a team manager, I would be delighted to work with him but we didn’t really talk seriously until now. If there’s an interest and he’s still showing something in the Tour de Romandie we would go on the market but for this moment we’re still… We don’t want to sign Alaphilippe for the name,” Vasseur told GCN during a call on Tuesday.

“We want to sign Alaphilippe for what he can give to the team. At this moment he’s facing a hard time so we wait for a bit and of course, we don’t want him to come to Cofidis as a retirement home."

Vasseur highlighted the example of Peter Sagan’s transfer from Bora-Hansgrohe to TotalEnergies several years ago as a case study whereby a great champion slowed in his final years and never quite delivered for his new employers. Should Cofidis make a play for Alaphilippe they would need the former two-time world champion to deliver almost immediately. Coincidently, TotalEnergies are also the current favourites to sign Alaphilippe when the French rider's contract expires at the end of the year.

Read more: ‘Negotiations have started’ between Julian Alaphilippe and TotalEnergies

“We all know the situation with Peter Sagan and TotalEnergies and we don’t want to do that with someone else. It’s why I don't want to go too fast with Julian. I really respect him. If I start a discussion with him it means that we want to go until the end. I don’t want to him to lose time with us,” Vasseur said.

“We want to be sure because we’re in a situation where we can’t make any mistakes in 2025. We can’t be in the position of FDJ and say if Julian cannot bring in success then it’s not a problem because others can. If we take Julian then he will have to perform in order to bring us between 2,000 and 2,500 points. I’m not sure at this moment that he can do that. I don’t want to sign him because I appreciate and respect him. I want to sign riders who can bring good results to the team and show that Cofidis still has a place in the UCI WorldTour."

Vasseur also confirmed that he was looking at Asgreen and Georg Zimmermann (Intermarché-Wanty) for next year.

Hunting that first win

Rider signings for 2025 are all well and good but the most pressing issue for Vasseur is that his team are winless in almost four months of racing this season. There have been placings here and there but the team that won two Tour de France stages in 2023 – ending a 15-year drought for Tour success in the process – has struggled since the year began.

“For every team, it’s always a big stress to wait for the first win, especially when it’s a long wait. Last year we won the second race in Australia with Bryan Coquard but this year it’s more tricky because everyone is waiting for that win. Even with some good performances, and some seconds, fourths and fifth places, with two guys in the top twenty at Liège-Bastogne-Liège, we’d like for the minds of the riders to be out of this stressful situation and we’re waiting for that first win,” Vasseur said.

Read more: Cofidis commit to title sponsorship of men's and women's teams through 2028

“To win a race you need a winner’s mind and it’s easier to have a winner’s mind when you already have several wins. Sometimes when you're waiting for the first win you are pushing to be in the breakaway too much and starting your sprint too soon or too late, and you don't take the good wheels.

"This is a situation that’s not comfortable but we can’t change it. In every team, you’re always facing some difficult times. Last year we had big pleasure in the Tour de France with two wins and now we’re dealing with this situation, which is complicated because we had sick riders, injured riders, and out-of-shape riders. We have a lot of things against us and it’s like it is. We can’t change it but we can change our plans for the next few weeks and months.”

Vasseur is confident that the squad can turn their fortunes around. Rosters have been reshuffled and rather than dilute his squad with various races, Vasseur might lean more of his star riders towards certain objectives in order to have as many cards to play in certain races. Time will tell if such a tactic pays off.

“We want to put our winners in the best situation possible. We’re also paying for the fact that we don't have a continental team because when you’re a French team you have a very heavy calendar. When you’re a UCI WorldTour team and French you need to do the UCI calendar, and the French calendar, which includes the most racing. If you have a Continental team then you can always put riders in some of those races. We have to manage that situation,” he said.

“Because we were totally out of contention at the beginning of the season it means our riders are totally fresh and not tired. I’m really hoping for a good May and a strong second half of the season,” he added.

For more of the latest from the professional peloton, visit our racing news page.

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