Thomas Voeckler (Bbox Bouygues Telecom) is hoping that his fine victory at the GP de Québec last week will help secure his team’s future for 2011, although he admitted that “the worst-case scenario” is possible. The French team are still without a confirmed sponsor for next season, although it is understood that manager Jean-René Bernaudeau has been in negotiations with potential partners in recent weeks.
“Jean-René was meant to make an announcement two weeks ago,” Voeckler told L’Équipe. “The wait goes on. These past months he has given me the names of possible sponsors, but while he’s been meeting with these contacts changes have been taking place. What seems certain one day is no longer so the next, but then if it was easy then it would all have been signed already.”
“We can’t rule out the worst-case scenario,” Voeckler continued. “But given that in the ten years that I’ve been with him, Jean-René has never told me lies, I believe in him. For me, it’s worth taking the risk.”
Voeckler’s Canadian win was just the latest in a string of high-profile successes for the Frenchman and his teammates. After winning the French road race title in June, Voeckler went on to win a Tour de France stage. Pierrick Fedrigo also took a stage at the Tour, while Anthony Charteau was King of the Mountains. In spite of this, their squad’s status remains shrouded in uncertainty. In August, rumours of deal with the French postal service were hastily denied by La Poste.
In 2004, Voeckler's lengthy spell in the yellow jersey at the Tour de France was instrumental in bringing Bouygues Telecom into the sport to replace Brioches Le Boulangere. A strong sense of loyalty and responsibility to the Vendée-based outfit means that it is now hard for him to contemplate leaving the team with which he spent his entire career.
“If I didn’t feel that I was part of the history of this team, I would already have signed elsewhere in July,” he said. “But if I’d said in July that I was leaving, what would the young riders on the team have done? They would have asked themselves the question of whether they should stay or go, and the team could have imploded.”
Should the team go under, Voeckler realises that he would be left with very little time to find a suitable deal for next season. “It would be less practical for me to negotiate in October rather than July,” he admitted, before acknowledging that he is far more enticing to French sponsors and teams rather than foreign ones: “I don’t have the impression of being liked abroad. Certain people don’t appreciate that I’m popular and that I like to joke around.”