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Report: Bernaudeau secures French sponsor to replace Europcar

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Team Europcar in the TTT at the Vuelta a España

Team Europcar in the TTT at the Vuelta a España (Image credit: Tim de Waele/TDWSport.com)
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Jean Rene Bernaudeau (Europcar)

Jean Rene Bernaudeau (Europcar) (Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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Team Europcar's general manager Jean-René Bernaudeau at a pre-Tour de France press conference in Liege, Belgium

Team Europcar's general manager Jean-René Bernaudeau at a pre-Tour de France press conference in Liege, Belgium (Image credit: AFP)
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Team Europcar might be racing its last grand tour for a while

Team Europcar might be racing its last grand tour for a while (Image credit: Tim de Waele/TDWSport.com)
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Bryan Coquard was another rider at Fleche Wallonne for recon purposes

Bryan Coquard was another rider at Fleche Wallonne for recon purposes (Image credit: Sadhbh O'Shea)
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Thomas Voeckler (Europcar) in the breakaway

Thomas Voeckler (Europcar) in the breakaway (Image credit: Tim de Waele/TDWSport.com)
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Pierre Rolland (Team Europcar)

Pierre Rolland (Team Europcar) (Image credit: Tim de Waele/TDWSport.com)
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Sylvain Chavanel (IAM Cycling)

Sylvain Chavanel (IAM Cycling) (Image credit: Courtesy of Polartec-Kometa)

Jean-Rene Bernaudeau has found a French sponsor to replace Europcar for 2016 and secured Sylvain Chavanel as a team leader, French newspaper L'Équipe has reported.

The Vendee-based team manager has faced a frantic search for a new backer, even trying to land a British sponsor to keep his team alive. However according to L'Équipe the new sponsor will ensure the survival of the team, with Bernaudeau hoping to secure a place in the WorldTour in 2016 after racing as a professional Continental team this season.

"The latest news is very good. Everything seems sorted out but the project has yet to be made official because the sponsor wants to make the announcement. It'll be a French sponsor, that's all I can say," L'Équipe reported Bernaudeau as saying.

Bernaudeau had asked his current roster of riders to wait until August 15 before signing contracts with other teams. Thomas Voeckler and sprinter Bryan Coquard stayed loyal to the Bernaudeau and are set to be part of the new set-up but Pierre Rolland and Cyril Gautier have opted to move on. Rolland has joined Cannondale-Garmin, while Gautier will ride for Ag2r-La Mondiale.

According to L'Équipe, Bernaudeau has made a formal request for a WorldTour licence with the UCI, claiming he has a budget of 5.5 million Euro and a roster of 22 riders. The new French sponsor may boost that figure by several million but it remains tiny compared to the estimated budgets of Team Sky, BMC and Tinkoff-Saxo.

It seems the new sponsor will allow Bernaudeau to secure the services of Sylvain Chavanel, who is looking to end his career in a French team after IAM Cycling confirmed he no longer had a place in the Swiss team.

Chavanel turned professional with Bernaudeau back in 2000, racing with the Bonjour team until 2004. He reportedly has offers from Tinkoff-Saxo, Bretagne Seche and FDJ but has given his word to Bernaudeau.

"I'm going to end my career with Jean-Rene," Chavanel told L'Équipe during the rest day of the Vuelta. "I know I can trust him and that he respects me. I'm really motivated for this new experience."