Omega Pharma and Quick Step confirm merger for 2012 and beyond
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Monday, August 01, 2011

Omega Pharma and Quick Step confirm merger for 2012 and beyond

by VeloNation Press at 3:23 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling
 
Combined squad aims to become bigger force in world cycling

Quick StepPooling the resources and talent of two WorldTour teams, the rumoured merger between the Omega Pharma/Belgian Cycling Company and Quick Step has become official and will commence in time for the 2012 season.

"We are very pleased with the deal we reached with Omega Pharma/BCC, as much as we are about Quick Step's renewal as co-sponsor and Innergetic as official partner," said current Quick Step general manager Patrick Leferevre in a statement. “I would like to thank everyone involved for their professionalism during the negotiations.”

When compared to previous years, Quick Step has had a quiet season thus far. That’s partly due to bad luck for Tom Boonen during Paris-Roubaix, as well as a crash during the Tour de France which left him with concussion and other injuries, and which eventually forced him out of the race.

It’s also down to the fact that the team has less strength in depth in previous years.

Omega Pharma Lotto is having a much more prominent season, due mainly to the efforts of riders like Philippe Gilbert, but the sponsors confirmed prior to the Tour de France that they would go in different directions at the end of the year.

That led to concerns that Omega Pharma might not have enough resources to field a team of the same quality in 2012, but today’s merger announcement suggests that this will not be an issue.

"With this agreement, we continue to invest in a Belgian team, reinforced with international talent," said Omega Pharma CEO Marc Coucke. "As in previous years, our goal is to be one of the top teams in the WorldTour."

While budget was not released, nor the names of the riders who will form part of the pooled teams in 2012, the duration of the deals was confirmed today. Omega Pharma has committed for 2012 and 2013, and has an option for 2014. Quick Step has pledged its support until the end of 2014. Innergetic, which is currently a co-sponsor of Lefevere’s team, has confirmed its backing will stay in place for one more year.

Today’s news provides further stability for the Quick Step squad, which last November announced that the highly successful businessmen Zdenĕk Bakala and Bessel Kok had purchased a majority share in the team's management company.

Kok gave his thumbs up to the news, and said that it should lead to a more successful showing in 2012. "I am delighted that Omega Pharma and Quick-Step have joined forces" he stated. “I believe together we can build a much stronger position in the sport in 2012.”

The newly merged outfit will be called Team Omega Pharma-Quick Step.

While Tom Boonen is certain to be there, it remains to be seen if Gilbert will be part of the squad. While speaking to Le Soir, he suggested that things might be tense with the chief sponsor of his current team.

“I regret that I am not able as promised to inform my supporters and the press as to my decision [about a new team] but suffice to say that the last official contact I had with BCC [Omega Pharma’s holding company] was through our respective lawyers.”

He confirmed that he had received ‘interesting offers’ from four teams: Lotto, BMC Racing Team, Astana and QuickStep.

If real differences are indeed there with Omega Pharma, it makes things more complicated in relation to the fourth of those potential suitors.

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