Voeckler to sign for Cofidis if BBox Bouygues Telecom stops
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Friday, October 01, 2010

Voeckler to sign for Cofidis if BBox Bouygues Telecom stops

by Shane Stokes at 7:14 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling
 
Final deadline for French champion’s decision is at 18.00 today

Thomas VoecklerFrench champion and Tour de France stage winner Thomas Voeckler has finally made the decision to sign for the Cofidis team, if, as expected, the BBox Bouygues Telecom can't confirm a new backer by this evening.

“I woke up at 4 am, I slept little, thought a lot on things, but I made my decision,” he told Ouest France. “I still hope for a miracle and that my team will continue, even if is not the case, it is normal that the managers who submitted their proposals to me are notified. I was also in contact with Sojasun-Saur, and I explained my choice to Stephane Heulot. I hesitated a lot. Cofidis has a chance to be in the Pro Tour and therefore to offer me a better schedule. "

Given that he is the star rider, Voeckler’s announcement is the clearest indication yet that the BBox Bougues Telecom squad of Jean-René Bernaudeau has failed in its search for a new backer. The French rider has been extremely patient and waited a long time, despite the offers of Cofidis and Sojasun-Saur.

Bernaudeau has spoken of his optimism for a long time and said repeatedly that he felt he was on the verge of finalising something. On each occasion, no new backer emerged. He had asked Voeckler once again to be patient and wait until this evening but, with the UCI’s deadline for licence application taking place today, it is clear that things are looking very bleak.

However, according to Ouest France, Bernaudeau has claimed that the UCI had given him an extension to secure a backer and lodge the application.

He went to Paris yesterday where he hoped to finalise an agreement with an un-named backer. It sounds like things did not go well. “I won’t have regrets, I cannot do anything more now. I gave everything that I could, I fought and I reached the end of my strength and my patience,” he said afterwards.

His position was further complicated by the resignation of Philippe de Villiers from his position as chairman of the General Council of Vendée. De Villiers had pushed hard to help save the team and his departure makes things even tougher.

The paper quoted Voeckler as saying that he would wait until this evening. “Jean-René asks us to believe again. I gave my word but, at 18.00, it is necessary to either welcome the success if a partner has actually signed, or to decide to go elsewhere. I'm sad because this is my family, but I can’t make the teams who have expressed an interest in me to wait any longer.”

The probability that the team will stop is a blow to French cycling, particularly as BBox Bougues Telecom had such a strong year. It clocked up 18 wins this season, more than many other teams.

The list of victories include two stages in the Tour de France, thanks to Voeckler and Pierrick Fedrigo, as well as stages in race such as Paris-Nice, Critérium International, the Three Days of De Panne, the Giro d’Italia and the Critérium du Dauphiné.

Other notable successes include the French road race and time trial titles, overall success in the Critérium International and the recent ProTour GP de Québec, where Voeckler pulled off a superb solo move. Equally importantly, the team steered clear of scandals and was seen as one of the most trustworthy in the peloton. Unless there is a dramatic last-minute turnaround, those factors appear not to have been enough.

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