The future of UCI Continental team Armee de Terre was cast into uncertainty after reports surfaced that the team’s main financial backer, the French Ministry of Armed Forces, has delayed its commitment to the team. The hold up has forced team management to miss the November 1 registration deadline with the Ligue Nationale de Cyclisme, which represents professional cycling in France.
Beginning as an amateur team in 2011, Arme de Terre jumped to the UCI ranks in 2015. All of the contracted riders are soldiers of the French Army, which has provided as much as 50 per cent of the team's annual budget.
According to Le Parisien, authorities higher up in the Ministry of Armed Forces are the main cause of the delay. In addition, the situation has become political since the departure of Jean-Yves Le Drian, who was the Minister of Defence under the five-year term of former president Francois Hollande, a long-time cycling supporter.
Le Drain has now taken up a new position as Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Development since the arrival of president Emmanuel Macron. Florence Parly has taken over as the new Minister of the Armed Forces but does not have the same relationship to cycling, reported La Parisien.
Team manager David Lima Da Costa intended to move the squad up to the Professional Continental ranks in 2019. He declined an interview with the French news outlet and did not confirm or deny reports of the team's sponsorship struggle.
The team supports 20 racers, including four-time world champion on the track Morgan Kneisky, the 2015 French road champion Steven Tronet, along with other recruits who had agreed to 2018 contracts: Tony Hurel (Direct Energie), David Menut (HP BTP-Auber 93), Benjamin Giraud (Delko-Marseille Provence-KTM) and Fabien Schmidt.
The team recently found success with Fabien Canal, second place in the second round of the Coupe de France cyclo-cross at La Mézière, and in the second round of the Track World Cup in Manchester, with Benjamin Thomas and Morgan Kneisky taking the silver medal in the Madison event.