Quick Step: Will there be a big shake up for 2011?
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Saturday, May 01, 2010

Quick Step: Will there be a big shake up for 2011?

by VeloNation Press at 11:19 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling
 

Patrick LefevereThis season will be a busy one for Quick Step boss Patrick Lefevere. At the end of 2010 contracts for 18 of the riders on Belgium's top team run out, leaving him with a lot to consider over the next few months.  He said he isn't jumping to conclusions for those that had a rough spring, and sees plenty of time for riders to get back on track.

"The cycling season is like a school year," explained Lefevere to Het Nieuwsblad. "Since it is also divided into three quarters. The first is that of the spring Classics; that is followed by the Tour [de France] which is the second major report, and in October the booking is made."

Lefevere said his approach isn't the same as some of the other teams who have already made up their minds.  "For some people it seems season has already passed," he said.  "But I would like to remind you of what happened last year with Lotto: in the spring it [their performance] was rotten, but in October it was euphoria."

He said he remains open minded about his team and, while some riders have had a bad spring, it doesn't necessarily mean that he's lost confidence in them.  When asked who will need to straighten up their acts he was matter of fact with his answer:

"Everybody knows that, hey. Should I repeat? Allez then: [Stijn] Devolder, [Sylvain] Chavanel, [Wouter] Weylandt."

Sylvain ChavanelOf the three, Chavanel has been the only rider that Lefevere has taken it relatively easy on in the press.  The Frenchman recently fractured his skull in Liège-Bastogne-Liège in the closing kilometers, and will likely miss out on a ride in the Tour de France.  This is a major setback for Chavanel, and will considerably narrow his window of opportunity.

Whether there will be a big house cleaning on the Quick Step team remains to be seen.  "Everything depends on the market. For the time being, there are still a lot of question marks, because some teams are still unsure about their future: Saxo Bank, Milram, Bouygues, Caisse d'Epargne...if there are 80 to 100 riders looking for a contract, then there is indeed a chance for a great deal of change. But that is not on the agenda."

There were some serious talks over the winter about bringing two-time Tour de France winner Alberto Contador (Astana) to the team for 2011.  In fact, the man at the head of sponsor Quick Step, Frans de Cock, said it was a done deal earlier this year.  "Alberto Contador will be here next year,” said de Cock, according to Bndestem.nl.

When he was further asked just how sure he was, he replied: "Very sure. We have spoken with him, the money is there and he wants to come. He just can’t do it this year.”

Alberto ContadorDe Cock said at the time that he was convinced that a change of direction would be a good thing for the team. "The Tour of Flanders and Paris-Roubaix are beautiful, but who doesn’t want to win the Tour?” he said.

The words spoken in January about expanding the team's focus will now resonate through the Quick Step camp following their losses in both Paris-Roubaix and the Tour of Flanders.  With Quick Step's contract set to expire at the end of 2011, Lefevere is also looking into new co-sponsorship options as well.

"This is not a problem for Quick Step; they were always open to other names on the Jersey. If there is someone that comes to me with a 4 million euro offer in hand, we'll be at the negotiating table," he said.

Since he's not sure of what his budget will be there have been no big decisions made, which brings up the question of whether or not he's already in talks with another sponsor.  If the market does open up and a new sponsor comes through, it's possible that there will be a big shake up on the team.

One thing is for certain: Quick Step will bring on a sprinter next year, and Lefevere named both Andre Griepel and Mark Cavendish as the caliber of rider the team will be seeking.  Greipel has said he's leaving HTC-Columbia next season, and now his name can also be attached to the Quick Step team as a possible destination.  He also didn't rule out Contador coming on board, but admitted that the deal would take some work with all the sponsors involved.

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