Bbox-Bouygues Telecom’s future appears to be guaranteed for another season after it emerged that Thomas Voeckler has reversed his decision to leave for Cofidis. Reports in the French press have named car-hire firm Europcar as the team’s new sponsor, although a formal announcement is not expected until Monday.
Voeckler announced on Friday morning that he would sign for Cofidis for 2011 in the likely event that Jean-René Bernaudeau failed to secure a new sponsor for the Bbox-Bouygues Telecom team. However, on Saturday Cofidis manager Eric Boyer revealed that Voeckler had changed his mind overnight.
“Thomas has taken the decision not to sign and that’s regrettable,” Boyer told Reuters. “I don’t think that anybody could have proposed better conditions to him than us in order to pursue his career. It’s not that Cofidis broke off the negotiations, it’s Thomas who took the decision not to sign.”
Voeckler’s about-turn strongly suggests that his manager Jean-René Bernaudeau has been successful in his eleventh-hour search for a sponsor.
According to Cyclismactu.net, Bernaudeau signed a deal with Europcar early on Saturday afternoon. The website also revealed that Europcar agreed to sponsor the team only on the condition that the French champion Voeckler remained with the team.
Bernaudeau was due to deliver his team’s dossier to the UCI on Thursday in order to ensure its place in the peloton next season but the Frenchman was given an extension until Monday in order to facilitate his late bid to find a sponsor to save the team.