Mark Cavendish looks to be without a team for 2023 after B&B Hôtels-KTM manager Jérôme Pineau has reportedly told his riders to look for contracts elsewhere.
According to news outlet Ouest-France, the French team has failed to secure funding for 2023, leaving Pineau's ambitious project on the brink of collapse.
The B&B Hôtels-KTM manager confirmed last month that he was negotiating sponsorship deals with five companies, and was awaiting responses on 21, 28 and 29 November. “These are very serious and worthwhile leads,” he told RMC Sport.
“If all the companies we’re waiting to hear back from say no, we’re in great danger and the team won’t survive at the level we want to be at,” Pineau added. “The budget we have today isn’t big enough for that.”
Despite rumours of lucrative partnerships with Amazon and Carrefour, it now appears that no deal has been found.
In October, the team missed the deadline to apply for a ProTeam licence, meaning that riders were free to find new squads under UCI rules. By this time, however, many teams had already completed their rosters for the coming year.
One rider who was widely expected to join B&B Hôtels-KTM is Mark Cavendish. The 37-year-old was first linked with the French squad in August after it was revealed that his current team, Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl, would not renew his contract for 2023.
The Belgian team put out a tribute to his most recent stint at the squad on YouTube today.
Farewell to Mark Cavendish
Speaking to RMC Sport last month, Pineau confirmed that Cavendish was part of his “plan to go higher”.
“If he didn’t believe in our project, he would have signed elsewhere,” the team boss said. “He wants to be with us. I want him to be with us but, for the moment, I’m obliged to say that he is not part of the team.
Pineau was also hoping to launch a women’s team, spearheaded by French road and time trial champion Audrey Cordon-Ragot. It is now uncertain whether this project will go ahead.
Already, riders linked to the B&B Hôtels project have begun to sign for new teams. Alpecin-Deceuninck today announced the signing of lead-out man Ramon Sinkeldam, previously of Groupama FDJ, who had been rumoured with a move to the French squad.
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