The B&B team shutdown on December 7 left you without a contract for 2023. How did you experience this situation?
I had a really rough time, I had a blur of December. When I heard the news of the closure of the team, it was not easy to find something immediately. We had to quickly pick up the phone and see if there were any places left. I had the opportunity to sign a contract with Burgos BH. They trust me. It’s really nice to be back on the other side of the Pyrenees, to find this way of life that I know so well from my first team (Euskadi-Murias). I feel good about getting results.
How did you manage to find a team without an agent?
When you have your own agent, you already ask yourself a lot of questions. What do you think you will do when you are told that you are at risk of being unemployed in 2023, that your career is at risk of being put on hold? I tried not to think. I immediately called the managers, looked for the right connections while looking at teams where I could feel good, where I could perform well. I had to manage with the help of Thierry Elissalde (his Bayonne coach) and Francis Lafargue (Indurain and Delgado’s former manager and translator). Burgos and I were able to get along quickly, but as long as nothing was certain, I was not relieved.
There is no place in the French teams?
There is only one team left at the Continental Pro level. The other four are on the World Tour, which is the highest level in the world. Numbers were closed quickly and only one or two places were left in all the French formations… They were soon filled. It was clogged. That’s why I’m very happy to have the opportunity in Spain.
Find yourself in competition with your friends, B&B teammates… Anxious situation?
Yes, we were all in the market at the same time, but we don’t think too much about it. Then we just think of finding a bike (sic). Of course, it’s nice to think that there won’t be room for everyone, especially some of our friends, especially since we’re so tight-knit in the team. Such an ending is truly a shame.
“We believed in it until the end. Jérôme Pineau reassured us and we believed him. Unfortunately, it didn’t happen.”
How did you get through the period of uncertainty around the B&B team?
we trusted. We were the core of the runs, we talked to each other, we told each other everything. We believed in it until the end. Jérôme Pineau reassured us and we believed him. Unfortunately, it didn’t happen… After that, there was no time to lose. I had no time to be angry. I preferred to focus my energy on finding a solution to find a deal. Anger would be useless. After doing that, we had to move on.
In Burgos, you will not be able to participate in the Tour de France (this team was not invited by the organizers). Is this another regret?
Of course, yes. Especially since this year there is an arrival in Bayonne, next to Jean-Dauger. It would be an unusual day. But when you leave on December 7th, when you don’t have a team, to find one in two weeks… I guess I can count myself lucky. In 2023, I will be able to express myself with my bike. I have a lot of dreams and that’s what matters.
On the other hand, you can hope to find Tour de Spain…
Yes, the team did the Vuelta two years in a row. I obviously hope that we will be invited, especially this year with the scene starting from Sauveterre-de-Béarn, where I grew up with my parents. This is the village where I started all kinds of sports, tennis, rugby, pelota. I always find my friends in Sauveterre. It would be magical to be there at the start. I already knew Saint-Palais in 2019, but there, in this village of 1,500 inhabitants, it seemed unimaginable. Well, first you need to get results, get invited, and then it will be time to enjoy the moment.
You signed up for a year. What do you expect from your career now?
Cycling is all about ups and downs. I only experienced the trough of the wave. I was in danger, but I managed to overcome this tender moment and it motivates me even more for this season. And why not jump back and show what I can do?
Will switching from Team France to Team Spain change your racing schedule too much?