Report: Bernaudeau secures French sponsor to replace Europcar

Chavanel says he will be part of new-look French team

Jean-Rene Bernaudeau has found a French sponsor to replace Europcar for 2016 and secured Sylvain Chavanel as a team leader, French newspaper L'Équipe has reported.

The Vendee-based team manager has faced a frantic search for a new backer, even trying to land a British sponsor to keep his team alive. However according to L'Équipe the new sponsor will ensure the survival of the team, with Bernaudeau hoping to secure a place in the WorldTour in 2016 after racing as a professional Continental team this season.

"The latest news is very good. Everything seems sorted out but the project has yet to be made official because the sponsor wants to make the announcement. It'll be a French sponsor, that's all I can say," L'Équipe reported Bernaudeau as saying.

Bernaudeau had asked his current roster of riders to wait until August 15 before signing contracts with other teams. Thomas Voeckler and sprinter Bryan Coquard stayed loyal to the Bernaudeau and are set to be part of the new set-up but Pierre Rolland and Cyril Gautier have opted to move on. Rolland has joined Cannondale-Garmin, while Gautier will ride for Ag2r-La Mondiale.

According to L'Équipe, Bernaudeau has made a formal request for a WorldTour licence with the UCI, claiming he has a budget of 5.5 million Euro and a roster of 22 riders. The new French sponsor may boost that figure by several million but it remains tiny compared to the estimated budgets of Team Sky, BMC and Tinkoff-Saxo.

It seems the new sponsor will allow Bernaudeau to secure the services of Sylvain Chavanel, who is looking to end his career in a French team after IAM Cycling confirmed he no longer had a place in the Swiss team.

Chavanel turned professional with Bernaudeau back in 2000, racing with the Bonjour team until 2004. He reportedly has offers from Tinkoff-Saxo, Bretagne Seche and FDJ but has given his word to Bernaudeau.

"I'm going to end my career with Jean-Rene," Chavanel told L'Équipe during the rest day of the Vuelta. "I know I can trust him and that he respects me. I'm really motivated for this new experience."

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