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Riders linked with Jerome Pineau’s team ‘worried, anxious’ as time runs out

'I am very concerned about the situation. I have a feeling that there was only plan A, and no plan B' says head of rider's union.

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According to a report in Ouest France riders linked to Jerome Pineau’s new cycling team have been left “worried and anxious” after the management missed a key deadline with the UCI, canceled a team presentation, and have been left with just days in which to secure vital sponsorship in order to receive a license from the sport’s governing body.

Ouest France spoke to Pascal Chanteur, a former rider and the current president of the union of pro riders (UNCP) and vice-president of the National Cycling League. He told the French publication that he was ‘concerned’ with the current situation and that riders linked to the team had reached out to him for clarity and support.

VeloNews spoke to one member of a WorldTour team’s management who didn’t want to be named. The management member told us that riders who had agreed on terms with Pineau for 2023 had recently reached out directly or indirectly about the possibility of joining if Pineau’s plans ran out of time. He has until November 15 to submit the needed documents in order to try and secure a ProTeam license for next year.

“I got a message from an agent,” the anonymous source told VeloNews.

“They said they were looking around for other opportunities for their rider who had signed on the women’s team. They asked if we were interested in taking her. We’ve got no more space but they are looking around. On the men’s side, it sounds like the riders have been kept in the dark. They’ve not been updated and they’ve just seen what’s in the press. There is definitely a concern there.”

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Chanteur added more context to the situation, while Ouest France stressed that Pineau and his management team were still quietly confident of finding the needed funds in order to bankroll a men’s and women’s team that would include high profile riders such as Mark Cavendish, Nick Shultz, and Audrey Cordon-Ragot.

“That riders need to sound us out, call us, to get answers to their questions, that seems logical to me,” Chanteur said.

“We are there for that, and when they need us, we are with them. We are there to bring them support, information… I felt them worried, and anxious. These are the two words that come to mind. But that’s normal, of course. I know that the manager does his best to give information to his riders and all his staff, but they read things, they hear things… They inevitably wonder, even if they trust their manager. We also had riders’ agents who contacted us for information.”

A spokesperson for the Pineau team denied rumors that the riders signed to the women’s team had been told that they could find alternative teams for 2023 but Chanteur acknowledged the seriousness of the situation given the fact that Pineau has not yet signed a major sponsor and the UCI’s deadline is fast approaching.

“A lot of riders and staff could find themselves unemployed, without a team, if things don’t turn out in the right direction. We have to be close to the riders to be sure that none of them find themselves in a delicate situation. That the rights, the contracts, are respected,” he said.

“First of all, I want to be as benevolent as possible with them, with the staff, the riders, etc. I wish the best to the team, really, and I hope that this episode will end well, that the situation will be resolved. I think it’s still possible and I believe in it, let’s be clear. But once I said that, you also have to face it. And having heard Jérôme at the beginning of the week, I am not necessarily reassured. He did not bring more details  (on sponsors) than those I was able to read in the press some time ago. He made me understand that he was still in talks with the City of Paris and certain other people. I understood that it was difficult to move forward… So that didn’t reassure me much, I must say.”

The City of Paris has not released any funds for Pineau’s project and the sponsors attached to the French capital have been linked to the squad but nothing more. They include Carrefour, Cdiscount, and even Amazon France. Earlier this week Pineau was called before the DNCG Pro (the National Directorate of Control and Professional Management) of the National Cycling League (LNC) to provide details of his project.

“I know that they went to the DNCG at the beginning of the week, but it is now pressing, because a file will have to be presented by November 22 to the International Cycling Union. It’s November 10, and if there’s something wrong, there’s a problem. There, it is a total blur. I am very concerned about the situation. I have a feeling that there was only plan A planned, and no plan B. It’s mid-November, it would have been nice to have one, wouldn’t it? Because I repeat, I want to trust Jérôme Pineau, I know that he does the maximum.”