Czech billionaire and Dutch businessman buy majority stake in QuickStep team
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Thursday, November 25, 2010

Czech billionaire and Dutch businessman buy majority stake in QuickStep team

by Jered Gruber at 7:51 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling
Deal ensures team's future until at least 2013

The recent rumors swirling around cyclocross World Champion Zdenek Stybar heading to QuickStep seem to have a much bigger story behind them.

Czech billionaire Zdenek Bakala and Dutch businessman Bessel Kok have bought majority stakes in the QuickStep cycling team, or rather the company that manages the team, Esperanza.

The financial infusion will allow legendary manager, Patrick Lefevere, to continue with the team until at least 2013. Previously, Lefevere's future was only guaranteed through 2011.

Interestingly, Bakala's purchase of the team will not change the title sponsor though - QuickStep will remain the top sponsor and the name of the team in 2011.

The money from the Czech billionaire seems to swing the door wide open for Stybar to head to QuickStep in the very near future - contract or not with Telenet-Fidea. With the backing of a man like Bakala, it seems that a contract with another team is only a minor detail.

“The QuickStep team has proven itself as one of the most successful cycling teams with fantastic riders, professional management and support staff. I am delighted to become part of this exciting team,” said Bakala today.

Lefevere confirmed that the agreement came after a period of long negotiations, and said that finalising the deal allowed him to concentrate fully on matters relating to the sporting success of the team.

“We have worked very hard in the past few months to reach this agreement. We're very satisfied of having reached this goal,” he said.

“This agreement will allow the team as well as the people who work for the team to have a guaranteed future even after 2011. From now on we will be able to focus on next season and on building the team for the near future. Our objective, as usual, is to win prestigious awards. Quick Step will stay as the main sponsor for the 2011 season. All remaining partners of the team also confirmed their commitment for next season.”

The team is led by Tom Boonen, who had a quiet season in 2010 due to a knee injury. He recently reported that the problem appears to have been resolved, and is determined to have a big year in 2011. It remains to be seen if he will be assisted by Stybar in the Classics, but today’s news appears to make it all the more likely that the Czech cyclo-cross world champion will be part of the team.


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