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With UCI deadlines falling away and the year galloping towards its final sprint, B&B Hotels boss Jérôme Pineau appears optimistic that at least something will come out of ongoing discussions with potential backers for 2023.
News of late has consisted mostly of rumours, most of them far from positive as stories trickle through of current B&B Hotels riders being left without salary payment, new title sponsors falling through, press conferences being cancelled and even of riders being ‘offered’ to other teams.
This last rumour has been debunked by Pineau himself – “Contrary to what is said, I never released the girls, I did not ask them to look for another team” – who has broken his radio silence with Le Télégramme.
“We are still working on finalising our project, a very high-level men’s team, a women’s team, and an academy, but we still need time,” Pineau told the French news outlet. “We have informed the authorities of our need to still have the next two weeks to obtain answers and present a solid file after the UCI and the DNCG (the National Directorate of Control and Professional Management).”
B&B Hotels was a noted absence on the list of teams registering for UCI licenses last month, and it’s understood that a further deadline was missed at the start of this week. The ‘final’ list of UCI teams is expected to be announced in mid-December, and though the Frenchman has reassured that there will be a team next year, it remains to be seen at what level.
“I am waiting for answers, I have five very serious leads, I am waiting for definitive answers on November 21, 28, and 29,” said Pineau. “We are ready to fire. I do not control the time, nor the amounts. I hope they are positive on the overall project, but I do not exclude that it will be revised downwards. Perhaps by asking my athletes to be more reasonable in 2023 before thinking bigger.”
Though Pineau has promised that his team will continue, he’s warned that a lack of or fewer than anticipated financial backers would force difficult decisions.
“The current budget is not sufficient to hope to evolve at the level where we hope. If necessary, we will have to make decisions. I remain optimistic but the future of the team is threatened,” he said. “I will believe it until the last minute of the last day. I said, I’m waiting for answers. And if a business leader wants to come with us, we won’t slam the door. It will be the beginning of something else or the end of everything. But I rule out pulling the curtain.”
The thoroughly French outfit has been one of the higher ranking ProTeams in recent seasons, and with that in mind, and a likely wildcard to future Tours de France, Mark Cavendish has been closely linked with the ‘Men in Glaz’ for months; the only thing lacking up to now has been confirmation that he’s signed on the dotted line. A step down from ProTeam to Continental might change things, but for now, the 34-time Tour stage winner is apparently staying loyal.
“If he did not believe in this project, he would have already signed elsewhere. He is behind us. I can’t hide that he is part of this project.”