Bryan Coquard has indicated that his preferred choice would be to remain under Jean-René Bernaudeau’s wing in 2016 but he has given his current Europcar boss a week to finalise a team for next season.
Although Europcar are set to leave as the team’s title sponsor, Bernaudeau has indicated that the team has a sufficient budget in place to remain at ProContinental level for 2016. However no official announcement has been made and the Frenchman is still hunting for a title sponsor in order to secure a valuable WorldTour place.
Coquard is one of Bernaudeau’s crown jewels and a number of rival teams have made approaches for the sprinter. So far Coquard has held firm, even though the transfer market officially opened almost a fortnight ago.
"I don’t know what my plans are for next year yet. Maybe Jean-René will have a big sponsor but I think it will be finalised this week. After another week, though, it’s going to be hard for me to stand by without signing for another team. At the moment I’m at Europcar and that’s my first plan for next year," Coquard told Cyclingnews at the Arctic Race of Norway.
"Teams have called me for next year but I want to stay here if Jean-René can find a sponsor."
Whether or not Bernaudeau can find the needed funds to support a WorldTour team appears to be secondary to Coquard at this point. All he appears to be seeking at this stage is stability.
"For me it’s not a problem if we’re WorldTour or Pro Conti, so long as we can get into the major races like Paris-Nice, Amstel and the Tour de France. At the moment it’s Europcar for me."
Andy Flickinger, who rode for Bernaudeau for much of his career, is in Norway as a directeur sportif for Europcar, and he confirmed that Bernaudeau would have a team for next year.
"We want to be in the WorldTour so we’re looking for a sponsor. Right now we don’t have one and it’s hard to talk to big companies in France in August because most people are on holidays but we’re confident for next year," Flickinger told Cyclingnews.
"We’ll continue next year at ProContinental level even if we don’t have that major sponsor."
As for Coquard, he is making his debut in the Norwegian race. He has not competed since the Tour de France but believes that he is capable of snatching a stage win.
"I had a holiday and then did a bit of training but this is my first race since after the Tour de France. I don’t know where my condition is though, it could be good, it could be bad but in training I’ve had good sensations. You just don’t know how you’re going to ride after a break but I’m at this race to win a stage, maybe a more."