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Report: Team Delko folds under financial difficulties

French pro continental squad raced for the last time at Paris-Tours this weekend after suffering financial difficulties through 2021.

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Team Delko has shut its doors.

The French pro continental squad raced for the final time at Paris-Tours this weekend and has now ceased operations, according to manager Benjamin Giraud.

Although the team is still yet to officially confirm the news, Giraud revealed in an interview with Direct Velo on Monday that his team had folded.

“The decision was made very recently but I preferred to wait for our last race before announcing it. I didn’t want the riders to have a hard time before the Tour de Vendée and Paris-Tours. Besides, we had a good week, and we finish on a good note, which is good,” Giraud said.

“Economically, the situation has been no secret for a long time. It is what it is. We are focusing on the sport and the image is very good, and I want to be happy about that.”

The Delko team had been on the ropes since the start of the season. The Japanese paving business Nippo and French region Provence both pulled backing from the squad at the start of the year, and the team struggled through 2021 as the UCI pushed for bank guarantees and several riders and staff made a hasty exit.

Despite the difficulties, the team went out on a relative high.

Eduard Prades finished second at the Tour de Vendée on Saturday before the team closed out with a 10th place finish for Julien Trarieux at Paris-Tours.

“When you’re in the industry, you know the difficulties we’ve been through and despite all that, the guys have remained strong until the end,” Giraud said.

“You only have to look at our last two performances at the weekend. I’m proud of the boys. We held it together right to the end. And I know that some people are pleasantly surprised by the way the riders finished the season, despite the problems we went through.”

After being formed in 2011 and going through various iterations, including La Pomme Marsaille and Delko Marseille Provence KTM, Delko’s decade in the peloton has now come to a close.

“We need money to do battle, and economically the team was at its worst. In these conditions, it was already good to be able to go to Paris-Tours,” Giraud said.

“We finished on a big race, and we performed well, I think that’s great. It’s better to finish in a good way than to do everything half-heartedly just to say that we’re going to the end of the season.

“Delko is more than a team. We have always been very close and there is something special here. It’s almost more like a family than a team. But now I tell myself that it’s really over. It’s sad.”