Vanmarcke 'cannot afford to wait' for Vaughters to find $7m

Belgian looking for new team due to Cannondale-Drapac chaos

Sep Vanmarcke is on the hunt for a new team, arguing that he "cannot afford to wait" for Jonathan Vaughters to secure the future of the Cannondale-Drapac team.

The Belgian, who leads the American team at the spring Classics, said he was shocked at last week's news that he and the rest of the riders and staff had been released from their 2018 contracts, with a sponsorship shortfall meaning the team cannot continue beyond this season unless team manager Vaughters finds last-minute backing.

"I thought everything was alright. Dylan van Baarle and Rigoberto Urán had even signed up. And suddenly that message," said Vanmarcke at the GP Plouay race at the weekend, according to Het Nieuwsblad.

Vanmarcke explained that the riders were told about the situation via email on Saturday, after the team received what it described as "discouraging news about a new partner we anticipated joining us in 2018." That partner is reported to be the betting company Unibet, though the team refused to confirm or deny this when contacted by Cyclingnews.

Vanmarcke must have felt a sense of déjà vu, for this is the third time he has found himself in such a position. Just days after signing for the Rabobank team in late 2012, the Dutch bank announced it was pulling out, though the team did continue as 'Blanco' with prolonged Rabobank investment. Belkin then stepped in as a new sponsor but half-way through the 2014 season the consumer electronics company announced it was off, and the riders faced yet more uncertainty.

Vanmarcke stayed with the team as new investment was found and it became LottoNL-Jumbo, though his agent had started negotiating with other teams, and that looks to be the case once again.

"The team is very honest to release us now, and I hope it will be okay," said Vanmarcke, who joined Cannondale at the start of this season. "But I cannot afford to wait. My manager is working on it."

Urán, the team's biggest asset after his runner-up finish at this year's Tour de France, has stated he will give Vaughters - who is in the process of setting up a crowdfunding campaign - two weeks to secure the requisite $7m, after which he will seek to finalise a deal with one of the teams queuing up for his signature. Vanmarcke, however, who also has a place on the team for next year should it continue, doesn't seem to want to impose such a buffer.

"I hope, of course, that the team continues to exist, but I do not want to take the risk. We'll see what comes of it," he said. "I'm not really worried about it – I'll find a good team. But for other riders this is a drama. Also for the mechanics and so on."

While Vanmarcke is right that there will be teams willing to sign a rider of his calibre, the problem is that team managers have already been assembling their 2018 squads for some time now, and most leadership positions have been filled. It may also prove impossible to bring across his brother, Ken, who has worked as a directeur sportif at Cannondale this season.

BMC directeur sportif Valerio Piva told Nieuwsblad that their team is looking for two more recruits and would be open signing Cannondale riders, though such a move would surely see Vanmarcke play second fiddle to Olympic champion Greg Van Avermaet, who won Paris-Roubaix, E3-Harelbeke, and Gent-Wevelgem this spring.

While Lotto Soudal needs to strengthen its Classics line-up after losing Tony Gallopin and Jurgen Roelandts, there's seemingly no room at the inn at fellow Belgian team Quick-Step Floors.

"For me, the situation does not change, even though Vanmarcke is one of them," Quick-Step boss Patrick Lefevere told Nieuwsblad. "Last year I had an interesting conversation with him, but the situation is different now. I have 25 riders for next season and I have no money left."

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