Ever since the high-profile downfall of his B&B Hotels-KTM team, Jérôme Pineau has insisted he’ll give his side of the story, yet he has remained silent.
Now, he has suggested he’ll explain all within the next month after the collapse of the French team, was explored in greater detail by French newspaper L’Equipe (opens in new tab) on Tuesday.
Pineau spoke to L’Equipe but only to say he couldn’t say anything. Meanwhile only six of the team’s 22 riders have contract for 2023, with expected new signing Mark Cavendish making a late move to Astana Qazaqstan.
“It’s too early, but I’m going to. I’ll share my thoughts in a few weeks,” he said.
“I hope to do that a little before the start of Paris-Nice. I must. I have to re-establish certain things.”
Paris-Nice gets underway on March 5.
The L’Equipe story details how Pineau hatched a plan with former French Football League boss Didier Quillot to grow his second-division team by signing star riders such as Mark Cavendish and create a women’s team and a development squad.
There was initial talk a €10m sponsorship deal with the City of Paris but that was never politically and legally possible, and the figure dropped to zero.
Meanwhile, the deal with Paris angered officials in the region of Brittany, which has helped back the team since its inception. The region put in around €50,000 per year but also made a much larger loan of €900,000 to cover the UCI bank guarantee when registering for a 2022 licence.
“It was important to associate Brittany with this team. That’s why we accepted to loan that sum which served as an obligatory guarantee for the UCI,” the region’s vice-president Pierre Pouliquen told L’Equipe, revealing he was kept in the dark about the move to Paris.
“Even when, in May, I approached Pineau to remind him of the story of the €900,000 loan, he said nothing.”
Pineau then set about approaching a string of corporate companies, part of the sell being the involvement of the French capital ahead of the 2024 Olympics, even if it was involvement without investment.
A few names were linked as prospective sponsors in the French press in the summer but L’Equipe details a story of a net cast far and wide, with 115 companies contacted. 40 meetings were reportedly booked, but precious little genuine interest emerged.
Cosmetics company Sephora revealed that Pineau was asking for €15m per year over five years. “[They said] We had to move quickly, time was running out. We didn’t follow it up.”
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