Just when it appeared, from the outside at least, that the Cofidis team was becoming an increasingly potent force after years spent mostly on the competitive fringes, reports are emerging that suggest all is far from well within the French squad.
According to a story in L'Équipe, the principal source of disquiet are the methods of team manager Yvon Sanquer, who took over the role in 2012 and has been hailed for remodelling the underachieving team around sprinter Nacer Bouhanni. The paper says that the relationship between Sanquer and his riders and staff "seems to have reached the point of no return".
It goes on to quote unnamed individuals within the team who say that "nobody has got any confidence in Sanquer" and that "he goes behind everyone's back". Another suggests that Sanquer is so hands-on in his approach that "he even checks the valves on the tyres".
L'Équipe also reports rumours currently circulating at the Ardennes Classics in Belgium that Sanquer is on the verge of being sacked from his post, adding that BMC directeur sportif Yvon Ledanois, Lampre DS Philippe Mauduit and former Cofidis pro and now TV pundit Cédric Vasseur are being mentioned as possible replacements.
Sanquer knocked back these suggestions, saying: "I wouldn't be in the middle of focusing on recruitment for next year if I was on the way out." In addition, Thierry Vittu, director of human resources and communications at the French credit company that owns the team, described the reports of unrest as "unjustified and unfounded rumours".
Vittu also played down links with rumoured replacements for Sanquer. "There are no plans for anyone to leave. I come into contact with a lot of people all the time, including Yvon Ledanois, but that has no link with the team," he stated.
Yet Vittu did confirm that he had heard reports of unrest within the team and had spoken to Sanquer about them both before the start of this season and again prior to Milan-Sanremo in March. "There is some tension," he told L'Équipe. "But Yvon is someone who is very demanding, both of others and of himself. Some are finding it difficult to put up with that. But that's Yvon's style of management. He feels that he needs to get right into the details."