This year's Tour de France is yet to go according to the pre-race plan for Dutch squad Vacansoleil-DCM and it appears things could get even worse. The team is still on the hunt for a new headline sponsor with reports that it requires a further 60-70 percent of its budget to remain at the WorldTour level. If the funds cannot be found the team may look to drop to Professional Continental status in 2014.
"I promised the riders some news by the Tour", team manager Daan Luyckx told Nieuwsblad. "But it was not good news. I have given them the hint to speak with their managers and to teams but also asked them to wait until August 1st before signing elsewhere," he added in regard to the date set by the UCI for the signing of contracts for the coming season.
The WorldTour outfit came into the race with last year's third-place finisher from the Giro d'Italia in the form of Thomas De Gendt but so far the winner atop of the Tourmalet from the 2012 Italian race is yet to show any real climbing form.
The team's best-place GC rider, Wout Poels is currently in 23rd and more than 13 minutes behind maillot jaune Chris Froome. Visibility has been plentiful throughout the first half of the three-week race with Juan Antonio Flecha and Lieuwe Westra prominent in the day's escapes whilst crowd favourite Johnny Hoogerland appears to recovering after his nasty high-speed fall early in the race. Tour rookie Danny van Poppel caused heads to turn in the opening stage of the race at just 19 when he finished third and has achieved a couple of top-ten placings since. The all important victory however, is still missing.
The Tour is one of the most opportune times to reassess a rider's movements for the coming season but the Dutch outfit will hope to turn things around entering the second half of the race.
"We are still looking for 60 to 70 percent of the budget for a World Tour team," said Luyckx. "That's the value of a title sponsor. Bianchi wants to increase its input but not as title sponsor. If we only get only 2 to 3 million euros we will have to take a step back to Pro Continental."
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