Satisfied with the rider’s progress as a stagiaire, the Trek Factory Racing team has announced that it has inked a two year deal with Julien Bernard, the son of the former French Tour de France contender Jean Francois Bernard.
Jean Francois Bernard was once seen as the future successor to Bernard Hinault and took over the race lead after he won the Mont Ventoux time trial in the 1987 Tour. However he was ambushed by an attack by other riders including eventual winner Stephen Roche and didn’t challenge for the overall.
Bernard finished third overall there and while he didn’t challenge for the win in subsequent Grand Tours, he helped Miguel Indurain take some of his five Tour titles. He also won races such as Paris-Nice, the Tour of the Mediterranean and Criterium International, as well as a total of eight Grand Tour stages.
His son Julien is 23 years of age and has been racing as part of the SCO Dijon amateur squad. He also has a bachelor’s degree in technical sciences in sports.
He was offered a position as stagiaire with Trek Factory Racing after taking wins at the Tour Nivernais-Morvan, Châtillon-Dijon and the Tour du Pays Roannais.
He helped Frank Schleck during the recent Tour of Utah, then went on to a very impressive tenth overall in the USA Pro Challenge. He was only two minutes 14 seconds off the race-winning time of BMC Racing’s Rohan Dennis, thus underlining his talent.
“It is a real honour for me to sign a contract with Trek Factory Racing,” he said. “Being part of the team in Utah and Colorado was an unforgettable experience for me, both on and off the bike.
“The atmosphere in this team is very positive and the mix of nationalities makes it really fascinating.”
According to the team’s general manager Luca Guercilena, the young Frenchman surpassed the team’s expectations in Utah and Colorado.
“On the top of Independence Pass he was there when the yellow jersey group counted no more than ten riders,” he pointed out. “His climbing skills are impressive and I believe he can still make a lot of progression in the next years.
“We are very happy to welcome him on board Trek Factory Racing. He will have a home here and will support him to develop his talent.”
Bernard said that his initial goals were to support the team as best he can and to gain experience, with the WorldTour races being particularly important to him.
“I want to keep progressing as a rider and I am prepared to work very hard for this,” he stated.