This year the team that used to be called Française des Jeux for the French National Lottery that sponsors it steps back up to WorldTour status which is good news for French bike company Lapierre that has also been a long-standing supporter.
This year there is also a new co-sponsor in BigMat, a Euro building supplies company that has enjoyed a long relationship with French cycle sport in general and in particular with Marc Madiot, the man that runs the team and who is himself a former professional cyclist who won Paris-Roubaix and multiple Grand Tour stages in his eighties heyday.
The Lapierre Xelius carbon frame upon which hang Shimano Dura-Ace components is competitively light at around 850 grams for a middle-size and as this latest version with BB30 and tapered headtube is still quite new having only been introduced during 2011, there's every chance it will see the team through the 2012 season. If there are any big changes, it will likely be to the Dura-Ace Di2 drivetrain which is due to jump up to 11-speed soon in time for the 2013 consumer model year.
And talking of consumers - that's us - and towards being able to replicate our own Lapierre team bike we looked on the Lapierre W-Series website which was one of the first to offer a build-a-bike option where you can have the resultant customised machine delivered to your door. Or at least to your nearest Lapierre dealership where they will set it up for you. Using the same Dura-Ace Di2 components as the FDJ team and Mavic R-Sys wheels with 3T finishing kit we managed just over £5k for ours. There's nothing like buying virtual team bikes, we find.