Europcar’s Thomas Voeckler was the first to attack on stage 4, the showman starting the stage at the front of the field and breaking clear soon after the flag was waved. He was joined by Luis Angel Mate (Cofidis) and the pair got to work building up a maximum of three and a half minutes on the bunch. Voeckler was the last man standing until 20km remaining before the inevitable happened and he got swallowed up by the peloton.

Europcar team finally secures racing licence for 2015

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Excluded from the WorldTour due to a budget shortfall of up to half a million Euro and left fighting to raise the finances to secure Pro Continental status, the French Europcar team has finally been confirmed as making that cut off point.

The UCI stated on Friday that the French squad would indeed be part of cycling’s second division in 2015, thus enabling the team to compete in many of the big races and to see wildcar invites to WorldTour events such as the Tour de France.

“The UCI Licence Commission had denied the Team Europcar the status of UCI WorldTeam for the 2015 season, considering that the team had not fulfilled the necessary financial criteria,” it said in a statement.

“The UCI Licence Commission left the UCI to reassess the team’s file with a view to registering it as a UCI Professional Continental Team.”

The team was initially passed over for the WorldTour in early December, with the UCI stating then that it would give it more time to try to raise the necessary finances. However it was unable to do that, and the Licence Commission subsequently told the team that it would not be considered.

At the time L’Equipe quoted team owner Jean-René Bernaudeau as saying the gap between the budgeted income and planned expenditure was five percent short. However the following day he was quoted as saying it was six percent.

According to an article on the Inrng website in December, the team budget is slightly over eight million Euro, thus representing a shortfall of over €400,000.

Inrng pointed out that while registration for a Pro Continental licence is some €60,000 less expensive than the WorldTour equivalent, the team was still well short and needed to find further cash or to make additional cuts.

It is now clear that it has been successful in making the numbers match up.

“On the basis of the new file provided, the UCI considers that Team Europcar has secured sufficient financial guarantees as required by UCI regulations,” said the governing body.

The team’s riders for this season include Pierre Rolland, Thomas Voeckler and the sprinter Bryan Coquard.

The Tour de France will once again be a major objective for the team.