The Vendée U was quick to put the church back in the middle of the village. Beaten by Baptiste Veistroffer on Saturday at the Boucles de l’Essor despite being overrepresented in the breakaway, the Vendeans dominated the Circuit de l’Essor the next day, the second round of the Essor Basque (see ranking). After this first weekend of racing, DirectVelo took stock of the upcoming season with Hervé Arcade, the sporting director of the TotalEnergies reserve.
DirectVelo: After being beaten the day before, in what state of mind did the team start the Circuit de l’Essor on Sunday?
Hervé Arcade: On Saturday, we were satisfied after the Boucles de l’Essor even if we didn’t win. We are very happy because the automatisms take especially with the new ones. Especially now that we have an international connotation. It’s not necessarily obvious with the language barrier, but we really wanted to recreate this dynamism, this collective that we had with the old ones last year. So we were just happy to be able to readjust things and optimize them this Sunday on a course that was normally a little more selective. We knew it could be done on the pedal. We also have strong elements for a possible finish in the sprint.
Baptiste Vadic and Lucas Boniface, who finished 1st and 2nd, are expected this year…
They are boys who know the philosophy of the shop. They have higher expectations than younger people. It is a pivotal year. Baptiste saw friends in his age group like Brieuc (Rolland) go elsewhere and Mattéo (Vercher) go upstairs. They want to do well, they have this little pressure for results. We will try to accompany them and take them to great Class 2 events so that they can exploit their potential to 100%.
For the team, it was important to succeed this first weekend after many changes during the off-season?
We know that we are expected. Every year is a new story. We told the boys that a new blank page was going to be written. We’re not going to dwell on 2022 all the time. Now it’s up to them to write their story. It’s true that we had a very good foundation, they have the legacy of those who were there last year. So it’s up to them to do well to also give a legacy to those who will arrive in 2024.
“PERHAPS A LITTLE LESS PRESSURE”
Are the goals always so high?
We may have a little less pressure because it’s been a long time since we won the Coupe de France and we managed to do so last year. Now, it is not necessarily a priority even if we have to keep the standing we have. But we are going to give ourselves a little more flexibility on the sporting perspective. That is to say, try to do a little more “exotic” races, not necessarily put pressure on yourself and then do Class 2 for training.
What exotic races are you thinking of?
I’m thinking of the Tour of Morocco, Guadeloupe and then possibly surprises at the end of the year if we see that the collective has worked well. Maybe there will be things across the Atlantic.
This winter, Morgan Lamoisson left, replaced by Steven Laurent. For a team like yours, it’s also an important change…
Yes, Steven has to take over the philosophy of Vendée U. The chance we have is that he was immersed in Vendée. He knows the philosophy of the old red jerseys. Steven is a smart guy. During the winter period, he was able to take possession of the codes that were given to him. And Morgan (Lamoisson) is our sporting director at heart, he was able to pass on the baton correctly, we are still in contact. He was able to pass the baton to Steven and we, with the staff, are there to give him a little bit of the Vendée U philosophy.
With the departure of Morgan Lamoisson, has your role evolved?
It is certain that my role has evolved a little since I am now part of the executives of the philosophy of the Bernaudeau house. My role is more oriented towards management and the sporting orientations to be given with the presidents. But with Steven, we are equal in terms of responsibilities. He’s not the bottom of the class and he’s someone who knows the job. He did great things with Laval, which went from DN3 to DN1. They weren’t ridiculous either in certain Class 2 events. He simply has to grasp the true philosophy of Vendée U, that of a collective.