B & B Hotels-KTM, the French team expected to sign Mark Cavendish, are still without sponsors for the new season with time running out to complete registration with the UCI.
As a result riders are believed to be "anxious and worried" about the French outfits future.
The team were widely expected to complete the signing of Mark Cavendish after his departure from Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl and also create a women’s team around French rider Audrey Cordon-Ragot.
Jérôme Pineau, the team’s general manager, is rapidly attempting to find sponsorship and according to Cyclingnews it’s understood that 22 November is the final deadline for the team to complete the registration process for the new season with the UCI.
The team has been linked with several major signings for the new season including sprinter Cees Bol and Cavendish, and new bikes are set to be provided by BMC. However, the lack of clarity around the situation is starting to generate angst amongst the team’s riders.
Pascal Chanteur, the president of the French UNCP rider’s union, has said that a number of riders have contacted him due to being “worried and anxious” about the team’s future.
The team were unable to complete several parts of the registration process including producing bank guarantees and rider contracts with the UCI before 15 October. Pineau’s team also cancelled a scheduled 26 October press conference which was rumoured to be when they may have announced the capture of Cavendish.
Several major companies and organisations had been reportedly about to partner with the team, including Amazon France and Carrefour Supermarkets. The City of Paris was also meant to become a key part of the team’s development in 2023.
So far, just B & B Hotels are expected to remain as a key sponsor of the team, investing a sum of €5 million.
UCI rules state that riders are free to terminate their contracts after 15 October if their team fails to register with the UCI, leaving them free to sign elsewhere. However, the late timing of B & B’s situation means that many teams rosters are now full for the coming year.
In October, Pineau told Le Télégramme that questions around the team's future were “understandable”.
He said: "I understand that people are asking a lot of questions, I understand there's a lot of talk but, again, it is just a setback. We are working, we are finalising the (UCI) dossier, we are fully focused on it."
Meanwhile Chanteur said to French media this week that he is “not necessarily reassured” by Pineau.
Chanteur said: "I know that the manager is doing his best to give information to his riders and all his staff, but they read things, they hear things. They inevitably wonder, even if they trust their manager,
"I want to trust Jérôme Pineau, I know that he does the maximum he can. I hope that the situation can be resolved. I think it's still possible and I believe it. But that said, you also have to face reality. And having heard Jérôme at the beginning of the week, I am not necessarily reassured.”
As long as the fate of the team remains unknown, so does the fate of Mark Cavendish and future attempts to overtake Eddy Merckx with the most Tour de France stage wins.
The duo are currently tied on a joint record 34 each.
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