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Chris Lawless leaves Ineos Grenadiers a year early for Total-Direct Energie

Joe Robinson
17 Nov 2020

The 25-year-old leaves contract a year early to target personal ambitions with French ProTeam

British sprinter Chris Lawless has left his Ineos Grenadiers contract a year early and joined French ProTour team Total-Direct Energie.

The defending Tour de Yorkshire champion leaves a deal that would have kept him in the WorldTour until the end of next season to target personal ambitions in the Classics with the French team.

'I can't wait to join my new team! It's a bit of a leap into the unknown because I've always been in English-speaking teams with teammates that I knew well,' explained Lawless.

'I can't wait to take on these new challenges and see what this team can do for me. I want to improve even more on the Classics. I felt this year that I had taken a step forward and that I was able to run even more in these races.

'Alongside Niki Terpstra, I will be able to learn even more and always go further. I don't know exactly what my role will be yet, but I know that I have a lot to learn from the experience of other riders. I think I will have the opportunity to get even more victories on my own.'

It is a surprise move for the 25-year-old who had extended his Ineos Grenadiers contract in September 2019 to take him through to the end of the 2021 season. 

At the time, Ineos team coach Conor Taylor stated Lawless's 'contract extension underpins the team's faith in him and the progression he has made over the last year' and that the team presented the right environment for him to progress.

The Wigan-born rider will, however, now take a leap into the unknown in order to chase personal ambitions, signing for the historic French team run by Jean-Rene Bernaudeau, a man who is excited by the acquisition of Lawless.

'The recruitment of Chris is a really big coup in this transfer window. He's a talented rider, with a strong character and a great state of mind. He appreciated our offensive approach and wants to be able to express himself in a team that gives him the possibility,' said Bernaudeau.

'For Total Direct Energie, it is a real achievement to attract a rider like him: the winner of the last Tour of Yorkshire, British, and from the Ineos Grenadiers team, we have something to be proud of! We have great ambitions for 2021.'

For Lawless, opportunities to race the biggest events in the WorldTour calendar should be frequent despite Total-Direct Energie's ProTeam status, with the team historically invited to the Tour de France and the majority of the Spring Classics.

The team has also made a statement of intent in signing not only Lawless for 2021 but AG2R La Mondiale trio Pierre Latour, Alexis Vuillermoz and Alexandre Geniez.