Rumors swirl that French cycling team B&B Hotels will sign the legendary sprinter ahead of the 2023 Tour. But team general manager Jérôme Pineau is scrambling for critical funding as deadlines loom.
If Manx cycling sprinter Mark Cavendish rides in the 2023 Tour de France next July, he could break one of the sport’s seminal records. And in the next two weeks, we’ll learn whether the team most strongly linked to him will exist long enough for him to do it.
Cavendish remains without a team for the 2023 Tour as of this writing. But industry buzz holds that French ProTeam (second-division) B&B Hotels wants to sign him. If Cavendish earns a spot in the peloton, he can break the Tour’s all-time stage wins record: 34, which he currently shares with Eddy Merckx.
To help him do it, though, and field a Tour de France-eligible team, B&B Hotels general manager Jérôme Pineau will need to act fast.
Pineau’s project now finds itself underfunded after its 2018 founding. And to make matters worse, the clock is running out as he struggles to secure the proper licensing to compete at the sport’s highest level.
According to Cyclingnews, expectations once existed that the city of Paris would back the team with other “major sponsors.” However, it now appears the city will offer its name only. And, it said, auxiliary funding channels that would help expand the team have also stalled.
Ideally, B&B Hotels’ arrival on the WorldTeam (first division) stage would be part of that expansion. WorldTeam is the highest Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI) category, and only teams that belong to it can race in the Tour de France.
The UCI’s deadline to register WorldTeams came and went in mid-October. After successfully applying for a deadline extension through the UCI and France’s cycling team regulatory body (the DNCG), he now has until Nov. 30 to secure eligibility.
Pineau told Cyclingnews he would meet with five potential backers on Nov. 21, 27, and 28. Intuitively, securing Cavendish for the record attempt would be a valuable publicity chess piece in his campaign.
But he admitted to the outlet that if the financiers don’t bite, B&B Hotels’ future looks stark.
“If the five leads come to nothing, we are then in great danger, and the team might not survive,” he stated.
On the new deadline date of Nov. 30, Pineau is due to present a dossier and corresponding budget to cycling authorities, he told Cyclingnews.
As for Cavendish’s connection to the team, Pineau transmitted a confident attitude to the outlet.
“If I hadn’t been in contact with Mark and if he didn’t believe in our project, he would have already signed elsewhere,” he said. “He’s one of the people who want to be part of this team.”
As of this writing, any news that Cavendish will sign elsewhere ahead of the 2023 Tour remains speculative. The UCI counts 18 official WorldTeams as of this writing. No more than 18 will compete in next year’s Tour.