When the UCI released its list of of racing licences in November, one team was conspicuous in its absence. Europcar, with their new sponsor Direct Energie, were not on the list of either WorldTour of Pro Continental teams, despite being expected to race in 2016.
The problem, according to a report in Ouest France, is financial, with SA Vendée Cyclisme – which manages the contracts of the members of the team – triggering the bank guarantee for the team as it was unable to honour all of its rider wages.
According to the paper, each team has to set aside three months of gross wages for all of its staff at the end of each season to cover the ‘off-season’ months of October, November and December.
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Usually the bank guarantee will be triggered by an employee who hasn’t been paid, but the report suggests that it was SA Vendée Cyclisme, in agreement with Europcar, with the money issues allegedly stemming from a missed payment from bike supplier Colnago.
Before the Tour de France, Colnago reportedly faced criticism from Europcar rider Pierre Rolland, which has led to the Italian company not paying its final instalment of the year.
Team owner Jean-René Bernaudeau has taken the case to court, with a verdict set to be delivered on December 14. But with the licence commission asking for clarification on the team’s finances, invoking the bank guarantee isn’t the greatest sign of financial stability.