B&B Hôtels-KTM manager Jérôme Pineau has confirmed that Mark Cavendish is part of his team’s plans for next season, despite facing uncertainty surrounding sponsors.
The 37-year-old sprinter has been linked with the French team since August, but a potential move has been delayed while Pineau searches for partnership deals.
When asked about Cavendish by RMC Sport, Pineau said: “If he didn’t believe in our project, he would have signed elsewhere. 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.”
The team manager added, however, that the Manxman is still “part of our plan to go higher”.
Cavendish’s transfer, and the future of B&B Hôtels-KTM, hinges on the team’s ability to find a big money sponsor. The UCI’s registration deadline passed yesterday, 15 November, but the French team has been granted an extension until the end of the month.
“The future of the team is threatened but we’re staying very optimistic,” Pineau said. “It’s not just me who decides. I’m going to keep believing until the last minute.
“I’ve had a lot of meetings with a lot of businesses. We’re now waiting for something to come together so we can put in place a men’s team, a top-level women’s team and an academy.
“I have five companies who want to support us. In concrete terms, we’re waiting for responses on 21, 28 and 29 November. These are very serious and worthwhile leads.”
Pineau added that rider contracts are ready and waiting to be signed once a sponsor has been found. The situation, he says, is down to social instability and the difficult economic climate, which has seen potential partners “back off”.
“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 said. “The budget we have today isn’t big enough for that.
“If the UCI and the DNCG (National Directorate of Management Control) ask me for the accounts tomorrow, we won’t be able to be a Pro Continental team next season.”
B&B Hôtels will remain as a team sponsor next season, reportedly contributing €3 million of the €15 million sought. The City of Paris will also lend its name to the team, but will not invest any public funds.
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