| Spain (1989–1992)
Andorra (1993–1994, 1996)
France (1995, 1997–2001)|
Bruno Roussel, Juan Fernández Martín
Festina is a former professional cycling team that was active in the professional peloton from 1989 to 2001. The team was sponsored by the watch manufacturers Festina Lotus AV.
The team first appeared as Lotus-Zahor but the following year, 1990, the team became Lotus-Festina. In 1993 the team became Festina-Lotus which it was known by until 2000. The team was a Spanish team from 1989 to 1992. Then the team was based in Andorra in 1993 and 1994. In 1995 the team became French from which it would stay until the team retired from the peloton, with the sole exception of 1996. In 1991 the team signed the Portuguese cyclist Acacio Da Silva who would not win the sprints classification in that year’s Vuelta a España. The team signed Sean Kelly in 1992 who won Milan–San Remo, the first Classic victory for the team. The team entered its first Tour de France in 1992. The team manager and directeur sportifs at this time included Miguel Moreno Cachinero and Carlos Machin Rodriguez but Bruno Roussel joined the team in 1993 and would lead the team during its most successful years. Richard Virenque joined the team in 1993. The following year the team challenged Miguel Indurain in the 1994 Tour de France whereby teammates Luc Leblanc and Richard Virenque finished the race 4th and 5th overall and Festina won the team classification. Over the following years, Festina would be present in the Tour de France with Virenque finishing the race 3rd overall in 1996 and second overall in 1997.
Virenque was a favourite in the 1998 Tour de France but after team soigneur Willy Voet was caught by France-Belgium border officials with large quantities of doping products in his Festina team car, all members of the 1998 Tour team including the World Champion Laurent Brochard and Christophe Moreau were arrested and seven admitted to taking EPO and were ejected from the race. Team doctor Eric Rijkaert was also arrested. Rijkaert was team doctor from 1993 to 1998. Laurent Brochard, Christophe Moreau and Didier Rous confessed and were served a six-month suspension before returning to racing whereas Richard Virenque did not confess, releasing a book called Ma Vérité where he denied using doping products. However, on October 24, 2000, Virenque finally confessed and was handed a suspension. The team doctor that was at the heart of the scandal, Eric Rijkaert, released a book in 2000 about the affair and discussing doping in the sport called De Zaak Festina.
Due to these doping scandals, the team reorganised itself and sponsor Festina set up the Fondation d’Entreprise Festina which aimed to promote any actions that prevent doping taking place that are undertaken by institutions or individuals. After the Festina Affair Juna Fernadez Martin, Yvon Sanquer, Michel Gros, Roberto Torres Toledano, Jacky Lachevere and Gerald Rue directed the team in its final years. The team achieved 3rd and 4th overall in the 2000 Tour de France with Joseba Beloki and Christophe Moreau and won the 2001 Vuelta a España with Angel Casero before retiring from the sport at the end of the 2001 season. The sponsor Festina continued in professional cycling for many years more by being the official timekeeper at the Tour de France, the Giro d'Italia, the Vuelta a España and several other stage-races.
Festina (cycling team) Wikipedia