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Reports of worried riders looking for alternative teams as Jérôme Pineau’s project remains in jeopardy

French team boss set to appear in front of the DNCG on Monday to explain his plans.

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Jérôme Pineau’s hopes of salvaging plans to run men’s and women’s teams in 2023 look to be hanging by a thread with the French media and VeloNews learning that riders who had agreed to contracts with the French squad for 2003 have begun to seek alternative options.

Pineau has until November 15 to save his team plans but with no major signed sponsor, and only a small proportion of next year’s budget secured by B&B Hotels, the situation grows increasingly difficult.

The French team boss already missed the UCI’s initial deadline in order to have a ProTeam license approved, and the margins of error are growing increasingly thin as the final November deadline approaches.

Given what has been made public in terms of the team’s secured funds for next year, Pineau has just under 10 days to find millions of extra Euros to solidify his plan, satisfy the UCI, and have the bank guarantee approved.

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Last week VeloNews learned that a rider who had agreed on terms with the French team for 2023 had already sounded out his current team to see if there was still a spot for him should Pineau’s plans fail. On Friday Le Parisien ran a story that indicated even more worrying details, with some riders reportedly still unpaid for 2022, Pineau desperately seeking an 11th-hour merger with Israel Premier-Tech, and still no confirmed financial backing with several potential sponsors ruled out.

The words in Le Parisien paint a desperate picture of how the last few months have developed

“The day of the arrival of the Tour de France, the Breton manager announced an association with the city of Paris (which did not put any money) and the arrival of a big sponsor for a budget expected between 15 and 20 million Euros. Since then, even if the future signing of sprinter Mark Cavendish has been mentioned, it is a big blur with almost non-existent communication.”

The only communication over the last few weeks has come off the back of the team missing the first deadline set by the UCI. After missing the cut Pineau then canceled the team’s presentation on October 26, the day before ASO announced next year’s Tour de France route.

The team has been linked with several major signings for 2023, including Mark Cavendish, Nick Shultz, and Cees Bol, as well as 15 riders already under contract through this year and seven rider extensions announced since the summer.

Following the cancellation of the team presentation, Pineau spoke to the French press.

“I understand that people are asking a lot of questions, I understand there’s a lot of talk but, again, it is just a setback. We are working, we are finalizing the file, we are fully focused on it,” Pineau told Le Telegramme.

“By nature, I am always worried. Given the current situation, we are never safe from an about-face from a partner or a rider. Today, it is not easy to take out a loan to buy a house or to guarantee a cycling team… But, once again, we are working. I hope everything will fall into place quickly. I have the people to finance my team. I am in constant contact with them. I believe in it, I hope for a nice announcement in November. That said, when we have announced everything, I will be worried the day after to know if it will work.”

The City of Paris, which Pineau stated had given its backing to the team, has remained silent.

Le Parisien goes on to state that, “according to our information, the city of Paris could even completely exit the project of Jérôme Pineau and his associates in the coming days. If there was no money involved, it would be a strategic blow for them. Especially since the Brittany region has already suspended its aid to the team. On the “big sponsor” side, several tracks (Carrefour, Cdiscount, and even Amazon France) had been mentioned. None succeeded.”

Le Parisien also reported that Pineau tried to merge his team with that of Israel-Premier Tech. VeloNews has not been able to verify this claim but has reached out to both teams for comment Pineau’s press officer categorically denied the information in the French press, telling VeloNews, “Thanks for asking. It never happened.”

Such a move would be highly impractical and unlikely given the fact that Israel-Premier Tech, despite its possible relegation from the WorldTour, already has close to 30 riders signed for 2023.

More worrying for Pineau, however, is the news that Monday he will be required to appear in front of the DNCG Pro (the National Directorate of Control and Professional Management) of the National Cycling League (LNC) and provide details of his project, according to cyclismactu.

According to the French publication riders from the B&B Hotels-KTM team have already contacted the National Union of Professional Cyclists (UNCP) because several of them have not been paid their image rights from the team’s sponsors. VeloNews reached out to the team for comment on this matter.

“Jérôme keeps working and will have important meetings in the next days,” a spokesperson said

The UCI is set to unveil a full and final list of WorldTour and ProTeam squads on December 21.