Transfer News: Francesco Chicchi returns to Quick Step, Wouter Weylandt may be on the way out
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Thursday, July 29, 2010

Transfer News: Francesco Chicchi returns to Quick Step, Wouter Weylandt may be on the way out

by Ben Atkins at 9:19 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling
Italian sprinter returns to the team he rode for in 2006, but may be pushing a Belgian sprinter out

Italian sprinter Francesco Chicchi has re-signed for the Belgian Quick Step team, according to Sporza. He previously rode for the team in 2006, when he won stages in the Driedaagse van West-Vlaanderen, Quatre Jours de Dunkerque and the Tour of Britain. He stayed with the Quick Step team for just on year though, departing for Liquigas in 2007, where he has remained ever since.

“You always hear the same names as the winner of mass sprints,” said Quick Step team manager Patrick Lefevere, “[Mark] Cavendish, [André] Greipel and Chicchi belong on that list. He’s signed for just one year because I don’t know if the team will still exist after 2011.”

Victories this year include two stages of the Tour of Qatar and one in the Tour of California, where he beat HTC-Columbia’s Cavendish. He has generally been regarded as the teams second sprinter though, after the more experienced Daniele Bennati

Although Quick Step already has an accomplished sprinter in 2005 World champion Tom Boonen, Lefevere does not expect the two riders’ styles, or ambitions to clash. Neither has Chicchi been recruited to take a subservient role to the Belgian.

“Chicchi is a pure sprinter,” he explained, “it’s not intended that he will work as a leadout for Tom Boonen, because Chicchi is actually faster; but they both have different goals.”

Exactly where this new acquisition leaves Quick Steps up-and-coming sprinter Wouter Weylandt is not currently known. The 25-year-old Belgian has been with the team since he signed on as a stagiere in September 2004 and has taken one of the team’s biggest wins of the season: stage 3 of the Giro d’Italia in Middelburg, Netherlands.

Weylandt had also been Quick Step’s first choice to replace Tom Boonen in this year’s Tour de France, after the former Belgian champion was forced to sit the race out with knee problems; unfortunately for Weylandt, he had not been included in the team’s 15-man preliminary list, and so was ineligible to start.

His stage win at the Giro has attracted interest from other teams and Weylandt has not yet decided what to do.

“Is he now going to leave because Chicchi is coming?” said Lefevere. “I’ve heard that Wouter has had some offers, but I’m still waiting for his manager. Chicchi for me is just another athlete.”


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