Bbox team saved as Europcar steps in as replacement sponsor
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Saturday, October 2, 2010

Bbox team saved as Europcar steps in as replacement sponsor

by Ben Atkins at 10:34 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling
 
Car rental company gives Jean-René Bernadeau 11th hour reprieve; Thomas Voeckler to stay on

nicolas vogondyAfter weeks and weeks of unsuccessful negotiations and false rumours, Jean-René Bernaudeau has finally secured a sponsor to replace Bbox Bouygues Telecom: car rental company Europcar, according to cyclismactu.net. The team dates back to 2000, when it was sponsored by free newspaper Bonjour, but can trace its origins back to the Systeme U team of the 1980’s, whose alumni include the late Tour de France winner Laurent Fignon.

According to l'Equipe, the deal is for three years but there are few details at present as to how much the deal is worth. The good news for the team though, is that French champion Thomas Voeckler should be staying. Voeckler, who has spent his entire career with Bernadeau’s team, announced on Friday that he had agreed a deal with Cofidis, but would only go if a new sponsor could not be found.

The bad news for the team though, is that in all the months of uncertainty the majority of the rest of the team’s big stars have left. Pierrick Fédrigo, winner of one of the team’s two Tour de France stages, has signed for FDJ, along with Steve Chainel and William Bonnet; Johann Tschopp, winner of a Giro d’Italia stage has signed for BMC Racing, Yury Trofimov has signed for Katusha, while Nicolas Vogondy has signed for Cofidis.

Bernadeau has applied to get back the ProTour (now called ProTeam) license that the team lost last year; he faces a struggle to have his application accepted with the loss of many of his stars. Unless he can find some more stars, either from within the remains of his team or on the transfer market, the team may have to rely on the reputation and results of Voeckler to secure invitations to races like the Tour.

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