Team Europcar manager Jean-Rene Bernaudeau has confirmed that he is working to find a co-sponsor, so that he can compete against the major WorldTour teams that operate on twice his budget.
In October 2010 Bernaudeau managed to save his Vendee-based team from extinction when Europcar came in at the last minute and he persuaded Thomas Voeckler to stay onboard. Europcar seem keen to back the team beyond 2013 but to similar problems, Bernaudeau has told L'Equipe that he wants to secure the extra funding before the start of the Tour de France on July 7.
"Will Europcar carry on their activity? In what way? I don’t know anything at the moment," he told L'Equipe, provocatively trying to push the car rental company to make a final decision.
Knowing he will always have a place in the Tour de France, Bernaudeau is not interested in being part of the WorldTour nor does he want to revolutionise his rider roster. He wants the extra funding to help develop riders like talent young sprinter Bryan Coquard, Tour de France contender Pierre Rolland and cobbled Classics rider Damien Gaudin, who finished on Sunday at Paris-Roubaix.
"I need a bigger budget, not to be part of the WorldTour but to pay my riders what they deserve after their success. I want to give a rider like Gaudin the technical support he needs such as a mental coach. I've never played at raising my price. All the riders want to stay, even Thomas [Voeckler], who is underpaid in relationship to what he can win. Thomas is one of the ten most admired French athletes but cycling's image is a mess even if the return is still exceptional or a sponsor. A stage at the Tour de France in terms of audience is twice as big at the final of the Roland Garos [the French Open tennis championship]. There's nothing like that."
Bernaudeau is looking for a co-sponsor to boost his budget from the current seven million Euro to at least nine.
"Europcar has been affected by the crisis. It's difficult for them to increase their budget, so we're looking for a co-sponsor. Europcar covers sixty percent of my budget. But I need to grow the team, to secure it’s long term future for the next five years," he said.
"BMC has a budget of 20 million, while we have seven. We have the ideas but we don’t have the funding. It's obvious that the boss of Sky could make him [Gaudin] win Paris-Roubaix before I can. We've got the competence but not the rest. It costs 200,000 to take 10 riders to the wind tunnel. It's necessary. But it's costly."