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Jérôme Pineau has broken cover and given an exclusive interview to French publication Le Telegramme in the wake of his B&B team provisionally missing out on ProTeam license and canceling an official team presentation in Paris.
The French squad was set to be unveiled in Paris on Wednesday but on Monday of this week the event was canceled “due to the absence of some of the main stakeholders in the 2023 team’s project.”
The cancelation also applied to the unveiling of the women’s team and came less than a week after the squad failed to submit all of the necessary documents required by the sport’s governing body (UCI) in order to attain a second-tier license for 2023.
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.
In recent weeks Pineau has been almost silent in the media. After using the final day of the Tour de France in July to announce that the City of Paris would back the team in 2023 Pineau took a vacation before returning to France to finalize his project. Since then he has given few interviews but In Le Telegramme he acknowledged the seriousness of the situation after L’Équipe reported that the team had not signed a title sponsor at this point, although B&B Hotels would remain a sub sponsor. L’Équipe also reported that Paris Cycling Club had been set up but that no funds had yet been signed off by the partners involved.
“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 then 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.”
Not having a sponsor signed and ready to announce is a major issue for the team and threatens its existence for next season. In recent history teams that fail to find sponsorship by late October or early November rarely make it through to the start of next season, and if Pineau had a confirmed sponsor he would have announced it during the Tour de France when it could have made maximum impact from a publicity standpoint.
For now, the riders remain tightlipped and VeloNews has not learned of any of the potential new signings being shopped around by their agents looking for back-up deals should the project fall through.
“I reassured my riders,” Pineau went on to say.
“I told them that we were putting ourselves body and soul into the adventure to go as quickly as possible towards serenity. I try to make sure they have better nights than mine. They are behind me.”
For all the speculation and creeping doubt, Pineau does at least have time. He has until the end of November until the situation reaches the point where an appearance in front of the license commission might be required. The UCI will then announce a full list of WorldTour and Pro Tour teams on December 21.