Probable Leaders 2020: Elia Viviani, Jesús Herrada, Guillaume Martin, Christophe Laporte
KONM’s 2020 Watchlist: Elia Viviani, Jesús Herrada, Guillaume Martin, Piet Allegaert, Fernando Barceló
Hotness Rating 2020: Warm
Welcome back to the big time, Cofidis. After more than a decade away from the top tier of the pro peloton (they spent the entirety of the 2010s at Pro Conti level), Cédric Vasseur’s team have finally made the step up to the WorldTour.
To mark the occasion, Cofidis have splashed out on former Deceuninck-Quick Step fast-man Elia Viviani, who joins his younger brother Attilio at the French team. Viviani senior’s departure from the Wolfpack came as little surprise after a year of rumours but it’s still hard to get used to the idea that he’s ended up at Cofidis.
Viviani’s long-time lead-out factotum Fabio Sabatini has followed him out of DQS, so it’s clear that Cofidis are trying to make a decent fist of this. Nacer Bouhanni is out the door to Arkéa-Samsic, so the full might of the team’s sprint resources will surely go to Viviani, although Christophe Laporte (who won a lot of races in 2019) may press claims for some opportunities.
Signing the Italian sprinter is a big move for Cofidis, one by which their 2020 will be largely defined. Viviani will be expected to win – and win often. It’s inaccurate to say all the team’s eggs are in one basket, but quite a lot their eggs are in one basket.
After coming from an environment like Deceuninck-Quick Step, you’d imagine Viviani won’t mind that type of pressure. He’ll get up there in the finals and give it a whirl. Whether or not he’s the force he was in previous years, he’s still one of the peloton’s best sprinters. Cofidis have themselves a big name and he’s unlikely to let them down.
Another noteworthy acquisition by Vasseur et al is the Parisien Guillaume Martin. The 26-year-old climber may not yet have a genuine landmark win to his name but KONM is a big fan of Martin. He finished 12th in GC at the 2019 Tour, the second-highest placed non-WorldTour rider behind Warren Barguil, meaning he ranked above the likes of Dan Martin, Romain Bardet, Fabio Aru and new Cofidis team-mate Jesús Herrada.
Martin’s victory on Etna in the final stage of the Giro Di Sicilia was a masterclass of climbing and earned him second overall in the race. He dropped several talented opponents with ease in the final kilometre and marked himself out as a serious rider to watch, so it’s understandable that Cofidis were willing to take the plunge on him and he’s likely to go into 2020 as the team’s premier GC candidate.
The Frenchman has talked of winning a Tour stage for Cofidis and believes he might have the materials to achieve both that and finishing in the top 10 in July. KONM agrees with that assessment and would love to see the diminutive Martin taking an étape next year: the infernal stage 17 to Col de la Loze may hold some appeal to him if he can manage fatigue until then.
Elsewhere, the aforementioned Herrada will surely continue to get in breaks and hunt for stages, which he did successfully at the Vuelta in 2019, winning stage six to Ares del Maestrat. The Spaniard also won the Tour de Luxembourg, the Trofeo des Salines and memorably roasted Bardet on the slopes of Ventoux to take the Dénivelé Challenge, so he’s a proven winner on a variety of parcours.
Cofidis don’t run too deep in terms of riders, but there are some young names that catch the eye. Damien Touzé is a promising rouleur-sprinter who finished 3rd in the French national road race. He’s got talent but 2020 may be too soon to see him really excel.
Piet Allegaert (25 in January, so perhaps describing him as “young” is pushing it) is a classics man who won the Tour de l’Eurométropole in October and could be prominent in the spring. Another one-to-watch is Eddy Finé, who took a stage at the Tour de Savoie Mont Blanc, while Basque newcomer Fernando Barceló looks a serious prospect and stepped onto the podium on stage 12 of the 2019 Vuelta.
Sprinter Simone Consonni, who joins from UAE Team Emirates, was there or thereabouts on numerous occasions in 2019 but seemed to specialise in finishing between 2nd and 7th place. As Viviani’s regular Madison partner on the track, it’s likely he’ll serve as lead-out fodder alongside Sabatini but he has enough ability to threaten in finals and may get chances to be the number one in minor races. Don’t be surprised to see him get a win in 2020.
Prediction: With Viviani, Martin and Herrada in the team, it seems certain that Cofidis will win races. They return to the WorldTour as an ambitious setup but beyond the leaders there isn’t a whole lot to shout about.
Laporte may chip in a few victories in minor-ish races within France, but Vasseur and his management team will be keeping fingers crossed that the above trio can remain fit and emerge successful at the bigger events.
It’s nice to see Cofidis back at elite level and if the big names fire they’ll do okay, but it’s hard to see them really making waves. They’ll be looking to build on last season, so 20-25 wins across the season will probably be the target, with grand tour highlights surely on the agenda.