Concerns have been raised over the viability of the project involving Jerome Pineau’s B&B Hotels – KTM team, possibly putting Mark Cavendish's future in cycling in doubt.
On Monday evening, a planned press conference to launch the rebranded team, set for Wednesday, was postponed at short notice.
On Tuesday morning, the leading French sports newspaper L'Équipe published a report suggesting that none of the potential sponsorship contracts have been signed yet, with the team past the UCI's initial registration deadline.
The new B&B project was expected to be the destination for Cavendish, he of 34 Tour de France stage wins, and the reigning British national champion, after he did not have his contract renewed by Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl. B&B would likely gain a wildcard invite to the Tour, which would help Cavendish on his quest to break Eddy Merckx's record for stage wins.
The 37-year-old is still without a team for next season, a similar position to the one he was in two years ago. In 2020, after he left what was then Bahrain-McLaren, Quick-Step came in at the last hour to sign the Manxman.
He rode his last race came earlier this month, and since then Cavendish has been seen riding with Lance Armstrong in Mallorca and with Pete Tong in Ibiza.
Among the other people he was with in Ibiza was Factor Bikes CEO Rob Gitelis, which started rumours about Israel-Premier Tech being his destination instead - Factor currently provide bikes to the team, which is about to be relegated from the WorldTour.
B&B's presentation on Wednesday, was meant to come a day before ASO unveiled the 2023 Tour de France route with both a men’s and women’s team announced in Paris. However, the team sent out a statement on Monday evening saying that this had been postponed "due to the absence of some of the main stakeholders", and that it would not happen this week.
According to L’Équipe, “since the day of the arrival of the Tour on the Champs-Élysées and the announcement of the association of the City of Paris with its professional team from 2023, Jérôme Pineau has hardly given any sign of life.”
“Two months later, nobody really knows if things are moving in the right direction and no official communication has been made on the subject,” the report said.
Last week, UCI paperwork revealed that the team had missed the first deadline for submitting all of its paperwork in order to receive a ProTeam license for 2023.
L'Équipe say that B&B Hotels could provide three million Euros for the team, and they hope tot raise around 15 million Euros in sponsorship from partners associated with the City of Paris and the Olympic Games, which is coming to the French capital in 2024.
The French newspaper said: "But business is complicated. The negotiations would today revolve around a global budget of fifteen million euros in the best case, including the future women’s team. But nothing seems signed yet."
“In terms of potential investors, the names of the firms Amazon France, Carrefour or Cdiscount have largely fuelled the rumour in recent weeks. Nothing should work out. According to our information, the most serious track today leads to Engie, supplier of natural gas and green electricity, while that of Enedis, manager of the French electricity distribution network, is rumoured.”
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