Caisse d’Epargne bank to rescue BBox Bouygues Telecom team?
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Saturday, September 25, 2010

Caisse d’Epargne bank to rescue BBox Bouygues Telecom team?

by Shane Stokes at 9:17 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling
Voeckler will wait until Monday evening before making his decision

Nicolas VogondyThe final efforts to work out a solution to keep the BBox Bouygues Telecom team afloat may rest upon the Caisse d’Epargne bank, which stood down from backing the Spanish ProTour squad this year.

Team general manager Jean-Rene Bernaudeau spent all of yesterday trying to finalise backing for his team. He had indicated to his riders that he would have a final answer for them by yesterday evening, but has now said that it will be Monday before he knows for sure if the team will continue.

According to the Ouest France newspaper, indications are that the Caisse d’Epargne chain of banks is the white knight that could save the team. Bernaudeau doesn’t confirm this, but continues to be optimistic about the chances of a solution being found.

“I can not imagine that my team won’t be in the Tour next year, and neither can Philippe de Villiers [President of the Vendée General Council],” he said. “We fight and we won’t give up… When there is life there is hope and, frankly, I believe in that. If all goes as I hope and as we're working, the chances are nine and a half out of ten to continue.

“I am not giving up and that is why I have not released my riders,” he said.

Many of those riders have waited rather than jumping ship, although Pierrick Fédrigo, William Bonnet and Steve Chainel have already announced they will go to FDJ. Also set to leave are Giro d’Italia stage winner Johann Tschopp, bound for BMC Racing, and Yury Trofimov, who is going to Katusha.

One of those who have given Bernaudeau a chance is French champion Thomas Voeckler who, along with Fedrigo, won a stage in this year’s Tour. "I have contacts with several teams and I must give an answer on Monday night," stated Voeckler, who was said yesterday to be becoming a little impatient. He’s raced with the team and its previous incarnation, Bonjour, since the very start of his career in 2001, and will wait two more days in the hope that he can remain there.

If Caisse d’Epargne does step in, the decision might appear a little peculiar to some, given that the company already decided to leave top-level cycling this year. However there is a clear difference between the Spanish ProTour squad it was backing and Bernaudeau’s setup. The latter is completely unblemished in terms of doping stories, while the former was plagued by its stubborn association with Alejandro Valverde, who was finally banned earlier this year due to his connections with Operación Puerto.

Given the sensitivity in France to such matters, there is a possibility that backing the French squad might be a better investment for the bank. Monday will determine if this is indeed the case; either way, the long wait to find out if the team will continue or not will be over.


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