Europcar team manager Jean-Rene Bernaudeau has already revealed that Europcar will end their sponsorship after the 2015 season and he must find a major sponsor to keep the team alive and hold onto his best riders.
Bernaudeau claimed the team was just six per cent short of completing their budget, while UCI president Brian Cookson told Cyclingnews it was “a very significant amount.” If the team secures a Professional Continental licence it will almost certainly obtain a wild card invitation to the Tour de France but will have to hope for, and work hard, to secure other invitations to major races during the 2015 season.
Team leaders Thomas Voeckler and Pierre Rolland have so far remained silent after the UCI confirmed on Wednesday that a budget shortfall meant Europcar had failed to meet financial requirements for the 2015 WorldTour. Bryan Coquard, however, has spoken about his concerns.
Despite being free to change teams for 2015, he said he will stay with Europcar for next season but hinted he will consider offers from other teams for 2016.
Coquard was hoping to ride the Tour Down Under as vital preparation for the track World Championships. Now he will debut at the Etoile de Bessèges. How he prepares and qualifies for the track events at the Rio 2016 is unclear.
“It's a real blow being a WorldTour licence. It's hard to take and changes everything,” Coquard told Equipe.fr.
“I had planned a race program that meant I'd do the biggest races this season and now everything is up in the air. I was going to start my season at the Tour Down Under but now I have no choice but to start at the Etoile de Bessèges.
“It's going to be difficult for the whole team because with 28 riders we've got to find races for everyone and wait for invitations from the organizers. I'm afraid that apart from the Tour de France we will not do another Grand Tour in 2015 and that's a pain.
“I was counting on Tour Down Under to perfect my preparation before the World Championships to be held in February in France. Now I don't really know if I should focus on the track. I'm a bit in limbo right now. I also have a nagging knee pain that is concerning me a little. I think I'll take stock after the World Championships. I want to go to Rio with the aim of becoming Olympic champion but I'll have to juggle my road programme with the track and we don't know what will happen after 2015. Everything is difficult to predict at the moment.”
Interest from other teams for 2016
Coquard won five minor races in 2014 and finished in the top five in three sprints at the Tour de France and was third in the green points jersey competition. He has an impressive pedigree that includes second in the under-23 road World Championships in 2012 and a silver medal in the Omnium on the track at the 2012 London Olympics. Still only 22, he could develop into one of the leading sprinters of the next decade and revealed that several teams are interested in signing him. He professed loyalty to Europcar for 2015 but may move to another team in 2016 to ensure he competes at WorldTour level.
“I'm out of contract at the end of the 2015 season and many managers know this,” he said.
“With the bad news that is accumulating, I'm afraid that the team will stop permanently. Under these conditions, I'm forced to think a little about my future. I have already received a lot of proposals and I feel I should study them. For now I trust Jean-René and I hope that he finds a solution so that the team still exists in 2016.”