Bernaudeau playing poker? are reporting that BBox-Bouygues Télécom manager Jean-René Bernaudeau is close to a deal with a new sponsor for 2011. The existing sponsor announced some time ago it was retiring and the race has been on to find a new sponsor. Arguably it’s helped the team, they’ve been strong and taken wins when you might not expect it, for example Steve Chainel in Flanders or more recently Vogondy in the Alps.

Jean-René Bluff?

But if the new sponsor is good news, J-R Bernaudeau is saying he thinks he’ll only be able to confirm things by 1 August. I really hope I’m wrong but worry that the 1 August date is a sign of the sponsor’s hesitation. Anyone keen to get involved should climb on board now. Ideally you’d ink the deal around now, inform the riders in confidence soon and then make it public as the Tour heads towards Paris.

Now waiting until August might make already hungry riders even meaner in July but some will also be worried about a job too. A lot of transfers and contracts get signed between now and the end of the Tour and it is possible that many riders will sign elsewhere by the time Bernaudeau inks the deal with a sponsor. It takes a lot of faith to hold out for the new sponsor whilst other teams waive contracts under a rider’s nose.

Here’s hoping the deal is closer to being signed than Bernaudeau suggests.