With Paul Penhoët from August 1st, then Lorenzo Germani, Romain Grégoire, Lenny Martinez, Enzo Paleni, Laurence Pithie, Reuben Thompson and Sam Watson from January 1st, eight riders from the 2022 promotion of the Conti team will join the WorldTour team. Never before has a team signed so many riders from its development team in the same year.

Marc Madiot, General Manager of the Groupama-FDJ cycling team :

“To bring eight riders from the Conti to the WorldTour is an extremely logical choice. We have a development team with an exceptional crop, so it was only natural to recruit them as a priority. The Conti model, which we implemented in 2018, has proven itself. The young athletes train and live together, have access to quality performance facilities and can switch to the WorldTour team in certain races. When we recruit them to the WorldTour team, we know they are ready and they know what they are getting into. They already have the DNA of our team and they want to evolve with us. Next year, I think we will break records in terms of average age. We were at a crossroads for the team, there was an opportunity in front of us, we had to take it.”

Jérôme Gannat, La Conti Sport Director :

“We had an exceptional season, which can be explained first of all by the quality of the recruitment. We had confirmed riders but others revealed themselves, I think in particular of Lorenzo Germani and Enzo Paleni. There was a positive emulation. They all come from different backgrounds and they all put themselves at the service of the team: as a proof, ten riders raised their arms this year. Our main objective is always to train our young riders so that they can perform well in the WorldTour. Including Paul Penhoët, eight riders from the promotion 2022 will be in the WorldTour team next year, I think there is no equivalence. They were seduced by the project that the team proposed, we don’t just offer them a contract in the WorldTour but a long term sporting project that they have to make their own. They all have a good state of mind, a good sense of teamwork, I think they will quickly bring added value. The WorldTour team will benefit from this exceptional pool. What the Groupama-FDJ cycling team has built up over four years is a success, and next season more than one third of the WorldTour team will have come through the Conti.”

Lorenzo Germani (20 years old, italian) :

“I often have a domestique role, it’s a role that suits me and I think I know how to do it well. I’m very happy that the Groupama-FDJ cycling team has valued this role by making me a WorldTour rider. I would like to point out that this was done before my two victories, so for me it’s very significant. It’s been a dream of mine since I was a child, it validates all the work that has been done. The Conti has given me a lot during these two years. When I arrived, I didn’t know anything about “real races”, especially stage races. I progressed physically and mentally and I also learned two languages (French/English). I owe a lot to La Conti, I want to thank everyone. I could also consult a mental trainer, I arrive more confident on the races but still with my feet on the ground. I raised my arms twice, firstly in the Italian championship, I was wearing the Groupama-FDJ jersey but I raced alone because I was the only Italian representative, then in the Val d’Aosta with my tricolour jersey but surrounded by my team-mates and the staff, it was incredible. Eight riders from La Conti will be in the WorldTour team next year, it is exceptional, we have a good feeling between us, I think we will bring a good energy.”

Main results :
Italian U23 champion
Winner 2nd stage of the Tour of Valle d’Aosta
2nd Tour du Pays de Montbéliard

Romain Grégoire (19 years old, french) :

“It’s a source of pride to reach the highest level of our sport but it’s not an end in itself. I hope this is just the beginning of the adventure. I felt good right away at the Conti. When you evolve in an atmosphere that suits you, it shows in the results. At the beginning of the year, we could have feared the language barrier but, once on the bike, we have the same jersey and the same objective. Every weekend, we are surprised by our performances. We are all moving in the same direction, and it’s no coincidence that 10 out of 13 riders have won this year. We take advantage of this. Personally, I have won some great races, which has given me a lot of confidence. Some races make me dream like Liège-Bastogne-Liège, which I won in the U23 category, or the Tour of Lombardy. I also dream of Grand Tours and, of course, the Tour de France. Next year, I hope to be able to express myself and learn from our leaders. To be a supporting rider is essential in the learning process. I also had this mission this year, to receive you have to know how to give, I also find a lot of pleasure in it, whether it is in the mountains or when I ride to lead a sprint.”

Main results :
Winner 7th stage of the Giro d’Italia U23
Winner Flèche Ardennaise
Winner Giro del Belvedere
Winner Liège-Bastogne-Liège U23
French Cyclo-Cross Champion U23
European Junior road race champion
Junior French Champion road race and time trial
French Junior Road Race Champion

Lenny Martinez (19 years old, french) :

“I’m very happy to join the WorldTour team. I will have completed all the stages with the Groupama-FDJ team, after the Juniors Programme and the Conti, so it’s a continuity. I feel good in the team and I will continue to progress. I have learned a lot this year, especially about teamwork, whether it is helping my leaders or being a leader myself and taking advantage of the work of the teammates. I am a climber and I like difficult races with a series of climbs and a fast pace. I won the general classification in Valle d’Aosta this year, which validated the good results I had in the mountains. I was also able to compete in several races with the WorldTour team and to be in contact with Thibaut Pinot and David Gaudu (the Tour of the Alps, Laigueglia, the Mercan’tour). I hope to be able to help David Gaudu in the mountains in the coming seasons. He rides hard, it’s motivating.”

Main results :
Winner of the Giro d’Aosta
3rd Giro d’Italia U23
8th Mercan’tour Classic
14th Tour of the Alps
Winner Giro Della Lunigiana

Enzo Paleni (20 years old, french) :

« As soon as I started cycling, 6 years ago, the objective was to make it my profession. When I was younger, I lived in Valloire and I saw the Tour de France, I always told my father “when I grow up I will do the Tour de France”. I have always done a lot of sports, I used to play hockey but I had a knee problem, so that was the opportunity to start cycling. By joining a WorldTour team, I reach the highest level, it’s very satisfying but it remains a step. The objective is to perform and to exploit my capacities at 100%. I am a polyvalent rider, a rouleur and I invest a lot in the time trial. This year, I think we were the best development team in the world, it’s a great reward to see eight riders move up. The objective next season will be to continue to learn, to listen to advices, but the goal will remain the same: to win! »

Main results :
Winner of Triptyque des Monts et Châteaux
2nd French U23 time trial championship
2nd French Junior time trial championship

Laurence Pithie (20 years old, new zealander) :

“It’s incredible. Since I have been a cyclist, since I have been cycling with my father and my brother, I have never looked back and I have always dreamed of being at the highest level and joining the WorldTour. To achieve this I had to change my life and move to Europe. It was a big change but I adapted quickly, now I feel like I am here at home. I have no words to describe how I feel. There were 10 New Zealand riders in the WorldTour this season, I’m happy to be joining them. I think I’m a Classics rider but I can also be part of a lead out train. It’s also great to share this with seven other Conti riders, it shows that this development team works. On paper you could see the potential of our squad at the beginning of the year but to make it work, to all work together and achieve what we did, it is strong. Thanks to the whole team for believing in me, I also want to thank the staff who made my life easier when I arrived from New Zealand. I can’t wait to discover what’s next.”

Main results :
New Zealand U23 Champion
Winner GP de Pérenchies
Winner 3rd stage Tour de Normandie
Winner Baltic Chain Tour  
World Champion Omnium
World Champion Madison

Reuben Thompson (21 years old, new zealander) :

“As far as I remember, I was always on a bike, especially my BMX, and then I started riding with a friend. We started competing with each other and some time later I was in France (laughs). I had an opportunity with a junior club, then the Conti and now the WorldTour, it was a natural choice. Last year I extended my contract for a year with the Conti knowing that I would join the WorldTour team in 2023. What we have achieved this year with this development team is special, I am happy to be part of it. It’s hard to sum up everything that the Conti has taught us, I don’t know where to start. I think what has impressed me the most is that we have managed to race like a WorldTour team. Personally, I feel more comfortable on my bike, especially when it comes to positioning myself in the peloton or during echelons. I became a more complete rider. I had the chance to race with the WorldTour team again and I saw that I had improved compared to last year and that I could help the team in the final. I am not so far from the top level. Having the opportunity to judge myself against the best is a source of motivation. I know that I still have to work to play in the final, but I also know that it is possible.”

When Reuben Thompson met Annemiek van Vleuten

“Six years ago, Annemiek Van Vleuten came to Queenstown in New Zealand during the off-season. My mother had seen on the networks that she was looking for people to ride with. I replied, thinking that there would be a lot of us. The next day, it was just the two of us. We did a 110 kilometre ride, I had never done so much (laughs). She stayed for about ten days and we shared a few rides. In January, she sent me all her outfits from the previous year, I rode for a year with the Orica women’s team equipment. She also helped me when I arrived in Europe. She is incredible, I was very happy that she won the Tour de France.”

Main results :
Winner 4th stage Tour of Valle d’Aosta
2nd of the Tour of Valle d’Aosta
2nd Circuit des Ardennes
Winner Tour of Valle d’Aosta
3rd of the Tour du Pays de Montbéliard

Samuel Watson (20 years old, british) :

“It’s something I’ve dreamed about since I was a kid. I’ve always been attracted to anything with wheels, I rode my bike to school and then I discovered cycling through the Pidcock family. All I knew was that I wanted to do it for a living. I particularly enjoyed this year at the Conti and I’m happy to continue with Groupama-FDJ. It’s the perfect place. This season, I learnt how to protect the sprinters and climbers so that they could express themselves as well as possible, which was new for me. Personally, I am more of a puncheur and I hope to become a Classics rider. I was happy to raise my arms last week in the Tour d’Alsace, it was impressive to see such a strong team working for me, I had to finish on a high note.”

Main results :
Winner Gand-Wevelgem U23
5th Tro Bro Léon
British champion U23
Winner 5th stage Tour Alsace
Winner 3rd stage Course de la Paix 
Winner 3rd stage Kreiz Breizh Elites

Learn more about the Conti

Created in 2019, the Conti is already in its fourth season as a development team for the Groupama-FDJ Cycling Team. Lauching pad to the WorldTour, the team is the continuation of the Juniors Program, set up in 2021, allowing younger talents to benefit from a fundamental support. The team is based in Besançon and has the ideal infrastructure to accompany the riders during their development, both on a sporting and personal level. The young guns can receive training courses on performance, nutrition, communication but also learning new languages, including French for the foreign riders. Each member has a professional contract and the same equipment as the WorldTour riders. The Conti has access to a wide range of races from the U23 category to Class 1 professional races. The UCI rules also allow riders to compete occasionally with the WorldTour team, which gives them valuable experience in their development as a top-level cyclist. In 2022, the Conti is having its best season since its inception. To date, 20 victories have been claimed with 10 of its 13 riders, as it ranks the Conti as the best development team in the UCI world ranking. This year, Kevin Geniets became the first rider from the Conti to take part in the Tour de France with the Groupama-FDJ cycling team. By 2023, more than one third of the WorldTour squad will have been previously part of the Conti.

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