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91st Giro d'Italia - Team Preview: Cofidis
By Bart Hazen
Date: 5/12/2008
91st Giro d'Italia - Team Preview: Cofidis

91st Giro d'Italia - Team Preview: Cofidis, le Crédit par Téléphone
The Team in red on the hunt for stage wins and epic breaks with young talent and wily veterans looking to impress.

The Cofidis team has no real rider for the G.C. or should we say none that have the promise to be named among the favorites; but they are well equipped with talent to strive for stage wins with riders like Nick Nuyens and Rik Verbrugghe. These riders we will definitely see in one of the many breaks, along with Mickael Buffaz a guy who likes the open road away from the confines of the peloton.

The Cofidis squad on the stage during the team presentations.
Photo © 2008 Fotoreporter Sirotti

An introduction to the Giro squad of Cofidis, le Crédit par Téléphone

The French riders of the team are Mickael Buffaz, Nicolas Hartmann, Yann Huguet and Damien Monier.

Mickael Buffaz (28 years old) is a pro since 2003, Buffaz who has distinguished himself in the long breaks and apparently likes the odds and taking the chance for an epic win. Mickael hasn’t won anything at this point in his grand attacks; but he has stepped to the podium frequently: second in the Tour du Finistere, 3rd in the Polynormande, 2nd in the Tour du Doubs, 8th in the L’Ain and on January 5th 2008 in the Tour Down Under. He rode the Giro last year and finished126th.

Many will remember Mickael's break on a hot day on stage 11 of last years Giro where he went on a 4 hour solo break of over 140 km and was caught in the final 8 km. During the break he built up a gap of 7 minutes and wanted to give up, his D.S. convinced him to continue and he did but with only 3 minute gap. Buffaz bravely went on to build a 9:15 gap as the skies opened up and the peloton started to chase him down. He was rewarded at the end of the Giro with second place in two trophy classifications in the for combat  and the Fuga for time in breaks, watch for this serial attacker during the race perhaps he will elude the peloton for victory.

Damien Monier (25 years old) has been riding for Cofidis since he turned pro in 2003. Monier is a track rider in origin. Since 2006 he started riding competing on the road, so far his change has been rewarded with a victory. Damien made his G.T. debut in the Vuelta last year and finished as 129th.

Nicolas Hartmann (23 years old) turned pro in 2007 with Cofidis. He won a stage in the Tour de L’Avenir last year and was 9th in the Route du Sud. Hartmann makes his debut in a Grand Tour this month.

The most talented French rider of the team is Yann Huguet (24 years old). Huguet turned pro with Cofidis in 2007. Last year he was 2nd in the Tour du Finistere, 2nd in the GP Plumelec, 3rd in the Route Adelie and 9th in Dunkerque. In 2008 Huguet was 21st in Paris-Nice, 4th in the Route Adelie, 7th in Paris-Camembert and 7th in the Route Adelie. Huguet showed his potential in Paris-Nice.

Stage 1 TTT: Cofidis team finished 18th at 1:05 led by Kevin de Weert in 126th place. Photo © 2008 Fotoreporter Sirotti

Two foreign veterans in the team are Spain’s Bingen Bustinza Fernandez and Swiss Steve Zampieri.

Bingen Fernandez (35 years old) has been a pro since 1996 starting with the Basque orangemen of Euskadi; he signed with Cofidis in 2002. Bingen is a strong climber and all round rider who lends his support to the team. Bingen is a favorite of the Daily Peloton staff and readers for his insightful race journals of the past about the life of a rider during the grand tours. Like most riders who ride in support of a team leader he rarely has the luxury to ride for himself.

Bingen Bustinza Fernandez     Photo © 2008 Bart Hazen

This is Bingen's 6th Grand Tour and second ride in the Giro d'Italia (29th overall in 2007); having finished 79th in le Tour in 2002, 33, 85th and 68th in the 2005 - 2007 Vuelta a Espanas. His best result was in 2000 when he finished 4th in the Vuelta a Pais Vasco. Bingen is also well known for his cycling tour company where tours are guided by pro riders and the guests are given every support of a pro rider experiences racing in a grand tour while they follow all three grand tours.

Steven Zampieri (30 years old) is pro since 2000 and is a good climber. He is three times Swiss climbing champion (2001, 2004 and 2006). In 2004 he was also 10th in Romandie, 12th in the Tour de Suisse and 19th in the Giro.

Last but not least we will introduce the Belgian part of the team with Kevin de Weert, Nick Nuyens and the rider with a past in the Giro d’Italia - Rik Verbrugghe.

2007 Eneco Tour: Nick Nuyens enjoys his third day in the leaders jersey.
Photo © Yoni Peeters

Nick Nuyens (27 years old) is a Belgian classic specialist who is hunting for a stage win in the Giro. Nuyens joined Cofidis in 2007 and turned pro in 2003 with Quick Step. In his career he's won amongst others the Ster Elektro Toer, Paris-Brussels, GP Wallonie, Omloop het Volk, a stage in the Tour de Suisse, Kuurne-Brussel-Kuurne, Etoile de Besseges, a stage in the Eneco Tour. In 2008 he hasn’t won anything yet despite a second in Het Volk and second in the Tour of Flanders. Nuyens is a safe bet for any of the stages that are similar to the northern classics, so he will be one to watch at the Giro.

Kevin de Weert (25 years old) turned pro in 2002 with Rabobank. He was called a big talent but it never came out of due to several injuries. Since 2007 he is riding for Cofidis as one of the main helpers of the team in the classics. Still young, Kevin has time to prove his talent in the future.

Cofidis' Rik Vebrugghe Starts his time trial 2007 Eneco Tour.
Photo © 2008 Bart Hazen

Last but not least we will introduce Rik Verbrugghe. Verbrugghe (33 years old) has a past in the Giro with stage wins, top 10 overall and several days in pink. Rik has won three stages in the Giro; the prologue in 2001, 7th stage in 2003 and the 7th stage in 2006. In 2002 he also finished in 9th in the overall ranking of the Giro. He also won the 15th stage in the Tour in 2001 ahead of Marco Pinotti. A is pro since 1996 signing with Lotto and rode for the team until 2004. In 2005 he joined Quick Step; but moved to Cofidis after that season. Verbrugghe has a good time-trial and can climb well. The past years have been  characterized by bad luck. In the 2006 Tour de France he crashed heavily and had to rehabilitate for a long time. With any luck at all, Rik may weigh in with a surprise in the May race to the delight of his many fans.

The full Giro roster of Cofidis includes:
• Mickael Buffaz
• Bingen Fernandez
• Nicolas Hartmann
• Steve Zampieri
• Yann Huguet
• Damien Monier
• Kevin de Weert
• Nick Nuyens
• Rik Verbrugghe

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