Omega Pharma and Lotto confirm split
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Friday, April 29, 2011

Omega Pharma and Lotto confirm split

by Ben Atkins at 1:23 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Spring Classics
 
Belgian lottery to begin new project “to create maximum opportunities for Belgian cycling”

philippe gilbertDespite its position as the top team in Belgium, largely thanks to the wins of Philippe Gilbert, the two sponsors of Omega Pharma-Lotto are to go their separate ways at the end of the year, as was rumoured this morning. Lotto, the Belgian national lottery, confirmed the split due to the fact that “the visions of the two sponsors on a joint future project are too divergent”.

The new cycling project will begin next year and run at least until 2015, when the current sponsorship deal with Lotto expires.

"Lotto players want to support their favourite Belgian riders and we must offer this possibility,” said marketing director Marc Frederix. “An accessible, popular and professional Lotto team that creates opportunities for talented Belgian cyclist enjoys a huge amount of support.”

The current rider roster of OmegaPharma-Lotto is predominantly Belgian, with Ardennes Classic king Philippe Gilbert at its head. The big signing of the winter though, was German sprinter André Greipel, while a number of Belgians left for other teams, including cobbles specialist Leif Hoste (Katusha) and emerging star Greg Van Avermaet (BMC Racing).

“Lotto remains committed to the peloton to allow a high-level team to resume service in 2012,” added Frederix.

Lotto and Omega Pharma have shared the same jersey since 2005, using the name of the company’s multivitamin brand Davitamon. In 2007 the brand was switched to Omega’s pregnancy test Predictor, then in 2008 its anti-snoring spray Silence.

In 2009 the company elected to use its corporate name, and the team has been known as Omega Pharma-Lotto ever since.

“We have worked constructively with Omega Pharma for many years and I thank them for that,” said Frederix. “In 2011, we have peaked, with a fantastic start to the season and excellent prospects for the Tour de France.”

As was reported this morning, there are a number of rumours over potential co-sponsors; the big name in the frame is telecoms company Belgacom, which is part owned by the Belgian state, and was rumoured to be the sponsor that fell through for Leopard Trek. Also mentioned was employment agency Adecco, which sponsored the team between 2000 and 2002.

“There are several potential candidates,” Frederix confirmed, “with whom we are considering the possibility of a structural and lasting partnership that is consistent with our vision and provides sufficient prospects for retaining the best Belgian riders in a Belgian team and to develop young talent in professional supervision. The past has taught us that change of partner has been synonymous with each new start, opening new perspectives."

Lotto is one of the longest standing sponsors in the professional peloton, having sponsored the team since 1984. Whether or not Omega Pharma will remain in the sport remains to be seen, but rival team Quick Step is hunting for a new sponsor, and Omega was a co-sponsor of the Quick Step-Davitamon team in 2003 and 2004, before switching to rivals Lotto the next year.

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