The major ambitions of Jérôme Pineau’s B&B Hotels team have come crashing down. After expressing hopes of signing Mark Cavendish and linking up with the City of Paris as a partner, both deals are evaporating, according to Ouest-France.
Pineau informed riders and staff on Friday that they were free to sign with a new team, although technically they were free under UCI rules to break their contract when the team did not get their ProTeam licence application in by October 15.
The signs are not good for the French team, who had to get special extensions to the deadline to get their budget in place set to November 30. In mid-November, Pineau said he had meetings with five companies and was waiting for responses at the end of last month.
Those “very serious leads” have not panned out and it seems the ambitious project that Pineau formed with his brother Sébastien in 2018 could fall apart altogether.
Two weeks ago, Pineau admitted as much to L’Equipe, saying, “We’re behind schedule but I’m going to keep believing until the final minute of the final day. It could be the start of something else or the end of everything.”
According to Ouest-France, the plans to recruit Mark Cavendish and chase major companies like Carrefour, Amazon, and the City of Paris scared off some smaller sponsors, making for a bigger budget headache when the negotiations fell through.
Pineau had plans for a scaled-back team with a budget similar to the previous years, between 5 and 7 million euros. However, it seems from the message freeing riders and staff that the project may implode.
Riders like top scorers Luca Mozzato, Axel Laurance, Pierre Barbier and Franck Bonnamour might find places on other teams. According to some reports, Laurance has been in negotiations with Ineos Grenadiers. Mozzato has been rumoured to be linked with Arkéa-Samsic, and TotalEnergies is an option for the French riders.