Bbox-Bouygues Telecom are set to renew their sponsorship of Jean-Réne Bernaudeau’s cycling team for another season, according to L’Équipe. In an echo of last season, it appears that the squad has managed to secure its future thanks to some publicity-grabbing performances at the Tour de France.
The French telecommunications company were initially due to withdraw their sponsorship at the end of 2009, but decided on a twelve-month stay of execution when Thomas Voeckler took a Tour stage win on the very day that Bouygues Telecom vice-president Emmanuel Forest visited the race in Perpignan. This time around, Voeckler and Pierrick Fédrigo each won stages, while Antony Charteau took the King of the Mountains title and Bouygues’ extended sponsorship is expected to be announced in the coming days.
As well as shoring up his primary sponsor for 2011, L’Équipe also reports that Bernaudeau is looking to secure his team’s future into 2012. La Banque Postale is touted to be a co-sponsor of his squad next season before becoming main sponsor the following year. During the Tour, Bernaudeau admitted to having contacted “around forty” companies in search of sponsorship and stated his hope that the successes of Voeckler and Fédrigo would “speed up their decisions.”
The Vendée department will also offer support to the locally-based squad in the coming year. The 2011 Tour begins in the region. It is as yet unclear as to whether the team's budget will allow it to seek a ProTour licence for the season.
Once Bouygues Telecom’s sponsorship is confirmed for next season, Bernaudeau can set about re-signing his riders and staff, all of whose contracts expire in December. Thus far, only Steve Chainel and William Bonnet have left, both destined for La Française des Jeux.
However, star rider Thomas Voeckler is keen to commit to the project. “I’m not worried,” he said. “I saw Jean-René two days ago and he told me that he had two possibilities and a verbal agreement.”
Directeur sportif Dominque Arnould said “Jean-René assured us the team would continue, and we believe him.” Meanwhile, L’Équipe also notes that two unnamed Bbox-Bouygues Telecom riders turned down the overtures of Ag2r-La Mondiale earlier in the week, suggesting that formal confirmation of the squad’s existence in 2011 is imminent.
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Barry Ryan is European Editor at Cyclingnews. He has covered professional cycling since 2010, reporting from the Tour de France, Giro d’Italia and events from Argentina to Japan. His writing has appeared in The Independent, Procycling and Cycling Plus. He is the author of The Ascent: Sean Kelly, Stephen Roche and the Rise of Irish Cycling’s Golden Generation (opens in new tab), published by Gill Books.