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 sponsor search: Bernaudeau indicates team will continue

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There is still no indication about a new sponsor to replace the exiting Europcar, but French team manager Jean-René Bernaudeau has stated that the squad will continue.

Bernaudeau has spent many months searching for a new backer, needing to find a replacement after Europcar indicated it wouldn’t carry on.

The wait has dragged on and, in the meantime, Pierre Rolland and Cyril Gautier have indicated that the will leave at the end of the season.

Bernaudeau was recently said to have travelled to Britain in the hunt for a new sponsor. Separately, Télégramme journalist Philippe Priser suggested that the bakery company Sicard could take over backing, although this has not been confirmed.

Whatever about the details, Bernaudeau sounded optimistic at the opening stage of the Tour du Poitou-Charentes on Tuesday.

“I can say nothing officially but I’m satisfied,” he told the Nouvelle République. “There will be a team next season.”

Beyond that, it is unclear if such a squad would remain Pro Continental or if it could step up to WorldTour.

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