Thomas Voeckler has confirmed that he will ride for Cofidis next season if his Bbox-Bouygues Telecom team does not find a new sponsor. A definitive announcement on the team’s future is expected later on Friday but the French champion’s statement would appear to signal the end of the team’s hopes of survival.
“I’ve decided to sign with Cofidis for two years,” Voeckler told Ouest France. “I was also in contact with Saur-Sojasun, and I’ve explained my choice to Stéphane Heulot. I mulled over it a lot, but Cofidis has the chance to be in the ProTour and to offer me a better calendar.”
Voeckler has spent his entire career riding for Jean-René Bernaudeau’s teams and has repeatedly stated that he would remain loyal to the squad as long as it retained the possibility of survival, even after Pierrick Fédrigo and Nicolas Vogondy left for FDJ and Cofidis respectively in recent weeks.
“I woke up at 4 this morning. I slept very little last night and I thought things over a lot, but I’ve taken my decision,” Voeckler explained. “I’m still hoping for a miracle and that my team can continue. Regardless of whether that is the case, it’s correct that I should inform the managers who had made offers to me.”
Jean-René Bernaudeau is due to issue a formal statement on Friday evening. Voeckler’s move to Cofidis will become official if, as is widely anticipated, Bernaudeau announces that he has failed to find a replacement sponsor for BBox-Bouygues Telecom.
Earlier on Friday, Bernadeau admitted that the matter is now out of his hands. "I have no regrets and I can't do anything more now," he said. "I’ve given all that I could, I’ve fought with all my strength.”
It is understood that Bernaudeau was in eleventh-hour talks with a potential sponsor in Paris on Thursday. He previously lost one of his most powerful supporters this week with the resignation of Philippe de Villiers from his post as president of the general council of the Vendée region.