Keisse given new contract by Omega Pharma Quick Step team
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Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Keisse given new contract by Omega Pharma Quick Step team

by VeloNation Press at 10:43 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Track
Deal brings to an end long period of uncertainty

Iljo KeisseAlthough the Quick Step team previously indicated that he was unlikely to be with it next season, Belgian rider Iljo Keisse has had his contract extended with the Belgian squad and will remain part of it in 2012.

The track specialist didn’t perform as well as expected on the road this past season, with his best result being tenth in the 1.1-ranked Dutch Food Valley Classic in August. That led to some heel-dragging on the part of the team but, after several strong performances on the track, he has a contract once again.

Renamed the Omega Pharma Quick Step team after a new title sponsor came on board, the team has suggested that Keisse’s main focus will be in the velodrome, while road competition will also be part of his programme.

“Iljo’s contract renewal will allow the team to participate in one more prestigious discipline in cycling, that is track cycling, which attracts a significant level of fans,” said team manager Patrick Lefevere. “We’re also convinced that Iljo can be useful to the team’s cause, even in road races in which he’ll be called on to compete.”

Keisse has been involved in a long tussle with the UCI over his positive test in November 2008 for cathine and hydrochlorothiazide. Court action on his part enabled him to compete in Belgium while he was banned elsewhere, but the overturning of that ruling meant that while his global ban has expired, his sanction is still in effect on home soil. He missed the Gent Six Day as a result.

However his sanction will be fully completed on January 27th and he’ll then put the matter behind him. He’s looking forward to getting on with the next phase of his career.

“I’m very happy with the fact that the team, the sponsors and Lefevere have renewed their faith in me,” he explained. “2012 will be an important year for me and I’m happy to be able to race in the same background I’ve spent the last few years in.”

Keisse spoke to VeloNation at the Revolution track meet in November and talked then about the stress he had felt. “For sure, it’s been about three difficult years now; for all kinds of reasons,” he said. “The sports part of course, everybody knows now: the positive test in Gent and the whole fighting about it, which made it three years instead of two years; or instead of nothing because at first the anti-doping commission of the [Belgian] Federation I was freed.

“It was like this,” he added. “I did everything I could to fight it as hard as I could; but then there were also other troubles. I lost a lot of young friends – four to be exact – so totally different problems without much to do with cycling; except that they were all cyclists…”

He’s laid out a plan for his velodrome events, but is yet to determine what races he will do after that. “In the upcoming weeks I’m going to continue my activities on the track with the Six Days races in Rotterdam, Bremen and Berlin,” he said. “I’ll probably also be at the starting line in Copenhagen. As far as road racing goes, I still don’t have a schedule. In the next several weeks we’ll be working with the team’s technical staff to figure things out.”

The 2012 Omega Pharma Quick Step team will include riders such as world time trial champion Tony Martin, Tom Boonen, Levi Leipheimer and others.


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