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Manager Jérôme Pineau told the team riders Friday that they’re free to sign with other teams after efforts to secure the team’s financial future fell through.
The French daily Ouest-France reported that Pineau had reached a verbal agreement for Cavendish to move to the team on the expectations that big-money backers were coming on board for 2023.
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Now it appears the French second-tier team, created in 2018 by ex-pro Pineau and his brother, could be on the rocks, Ouest-France reported.
The brothers not only were unable to close on deals to increase the team’s budget and create a women’s team, but it appears that money is falling through to support an even smaller scale project.
There was no immediate word from Pineau, who notified racers Friday that they’re free to pursue other leads in a private message to riders and staffers.
The paper reported that Pineau hopes to keep the team alive at some level, but it certainly will not be increasing its budget, and could even see a decrease from its 2022 budget between 5 to 7 million euros.
That leaves the future of the team’s riders uncertain, as well as other riders who were expected to join in 2023. Several top riders, such as Pierre Rolland and Jens Debusschere, could be left stranded.
Where will Mark Cavendish race?
The news comes as Cavendish’s future remains uncertain.
The sprinting superstar left Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl at the end of 2022 after not returning to the Tour de France, where he is one stage victory short of setting a new record for all-time stage wins. He is currently tied with Eddy Merckx with 34 stage victories.
The paper reported that Pineau had reached a verbal agreement for Cavendish to join the team in 2023.
There was no immediate word from Cavendish, who was posting rides on social media this week with the training platform Zwift.
Though several big teams have said their rosters are closed, there could be a handful of options for a rider of Cavendish’s caliber and star power. Some rumors point toward a return to Ineos Grenadiers, but officials refused to comment publicly.