Futher talk about Omega Pharma/Lotto split and formation of new team
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Friday, April 29, 2011

Futher talk about Omega Pharma/Lotto split and formation of new team

by Conal Andrews at 8:13 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling
Could Belgacom and Adecco come on board?

Philippe GilbertFollowing recent rumours of tension between the sponsors of the Omega Pharma-Lotto team, speculation is growing further that the squad could split in two halves for 2012. Belgian publication De Morgen has reported that Lotto is working on a major new project, backed by the government and featuring Belgacom and Adecco as sponsors.

Meanwhile there is some talk that Omega Pharma could potentially ally itself with the rival Quick Step formation. It is looking for a new sponsor for 2012.

Lotto is owned by the state, and is currently putting 4.5 million euro per year into the team. The federal government also has a majority share in Belgacom. Adecco was previously a co-sponsor with Lotto, and features cycling enthusiast Patrick De Maeseneire as CEO.

It has been said that Philippe Gilbert would be the top rider with the new team, but the rider has told the Gazet van Antwerpen that he doesn’t know anything about the rumoured project.

“I only know what I read in the press,” he said. “Personally I have not seen anything about this. I find it all very bizarre. The team is experiencing the best years of its existence and yet it is possible that the cooperation stops.”

He has made it clear that he is not committing to anything at this point. “I have no deadline and with the results I've achieved, I am not worrying,” he explained. “There are plenty of candidates who want to negotiate with me.”

One of those is thought to be the Astana team. Its current leader Alexandre Vinokourov will retire at the end of the season and has said on several occasions that he would like Gilbert to be part of the squad.

The Belgian recently made history when he won four top races in succession; he took Brabantse Pijl, then won the Amstel Gold Race, Flèche Wallonne and last Sunday’s Liège-Bastogne-Liège.

Belgacom was previously tipped to become chief sponsor with the Leopard Trek team but that ultimately did not happen.


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