UCI Professional Continental cycling team Direct Energie has announced it plans to return to the top tier of the sport in 2019.
Direct Energie manager Jean-René Bernaudeau has said the French outfit will file an application to the International Cycling Union (UCI) in the belief that it deserves promotion to the WorldTour through its sporting achievements.
Direct Energie currently competes as a second-tier Pro Continental team and currently makes wildcard entries at certain WorldTour events, most recently the Tour de France. Direct Energie has picked up 14 wins so far this season and Bernaudeau said: “I have always thought that candidature for the WorldTour should be based on sporting considerations.
“We’ve just finished a Tour de France in which our team of ‘baroudeurs’ were among the most visible. Even if we didn’t win a stage, we animated the Tour and set ourselves apart through our audacity and fighting spirit – that’s what the public want, and that’s how we’re going to go after the biggest success.”
Direct Energie was formed in 2000 and has made sporadic appearances as a WorldTour outfit, most recently in 2011. French energy firm Direct Energie became its main sponsor in 2016 and Bernaudeau said the decision to chase WorldTour status comes with the company having made a long-term pledge to support the team.
Xavier Caïtucoli, chief executive of Direct Energie, said: “With this team, we have found a formidable vehicle for our brand, which we’ve showcased across digital, social, video, hospitality and the Tour de France publicity caravan. Going forward, the team is destined to play a leading role in the international peloton, and the WorldTour is the natural environment to satisfy that ambition.”