The peloton's oldest team may have failed in its quest to continue. Roger Legeay announced Friday that he had not secured a replacement sponsor for Crédit Agricole, and has freed his riders to pursue contracts with other teams. According to AFP, the team's manager was turned down by a prospective sponsor, and had reached the August 1st deadline he had set for informing his riders about the future of the team.
"Riders who gave me their words [to stay] are free to sign another team," Legeay said, but wasn't quite ready to throw in the towel completely. "The leading riders in the team such as Thor Hushovd, Simon Gerrans, Pierre Rolland, Remi Pauriol and Mark Renshaw have told me they won't make a decision about their future before ringing me. They've given me until August 15 and that gives me a bit of hope. Perhaps this announcement will cause something to happen."
The Crédit Agricole squad has been in the sport since 1998, but grew out of the Peugeot team which was in existence for 40 years. It evolved into the Z and GAN teams which saw Greg LeMond to his Tour de France title in 1990. Legeay has been a central figure in the organisation for some 22 years.
The team has fostered many of cycling's stars in its many years in the peloton. Chris Boardman took his three prologue victories under Legeay in 1994, 1997 and 1998, and Stuart O'Grady wore the yellow jersey over his Crédit Agricole green in 2000. German Jens Voigt wore yellow for the squad in the 2003 Tour before Hushovd secured the green jersey in 2005.
The team enjoyed success in this year's Tour de France with two stage victories. Thor Hushovd won the second stage and Australian Simon Gerrans took the win in Prato Nevoso. But its celebration on the final day was cut short when the team was informed that rider Dmitri Fofonov had tested positive for a banned stimulant.
The Crédit Agricole team is not the only outfit facing extinction, as the Gerolsteiner team has yet to announce a replacement sponsor.