Lefevere disillusioned with Gilbert and agent after unsuccessful contract talks
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Friday, August 19, 2011

Lefevere disillusioned with Gilbert and agent after unsuccessful contract talks

by VeloNation Press at 8:30 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling
Says Quick Step wants to finalise negotiations with Tony Martin

Philippe GilbertResponding to Friday morning’s news that Philippe Gilbert had signed a three year deal with the BMC Racing Team, Quick Step general manager Patrick Lefevere has said that he is disappointed with how the rider’s agent conducted negotiations.

“Two weeks ago I met him [Gilbert] accidentally in Monaco. We had a friendly conversation,” he told Sporza. “He said he had not decided anything yet. On Thursday I sat down with Gilbert’s manager. We negotiated about terms. Suddenly he gave silly reasons why Philippe could not come to us. He included problems caused by our conflict with the UCI over earpieces [race radio]. It was too stupid for words.”

His agent Vincent Wathelet told Het Laastste Nieuws earlier this week that there was a chance the rider could end up as part of Lefevere’s team. “On Thursday or Friday I will talk with Patrick Lefevere,” he said then. “We have received the final offer of BMC and now know quite specifically their proposal. It makes sense that we give the leaders of Omega Pharma – Quick Step the opportunity to come up with an answer to this offer.

“I am convinced that Lefevere will also put together a strong team, but BMC has the advantage that it already has a strong team. Still, maybe I was misunderstood last week when I said that BMC was ahead [in the bidding]. Omega Pharma – Quick Step also has another chance.”

Lefevere now feels that his team was strung along by such talk, and that the intention was never really there to give his setup a real chance. “Actually I'm not totally surprised,” he admitted. “Everyone in the peloton heard the rumours about BMC. I have the feeling that Gilbert has taken us for fools.”

He added that when the Omega Pharma backers said that they would join with his team next year, they gave guarantees that Gilbert would also head to the squad. The rider has a remaining year on his current contract with them, and it is thought likely that the BMC Racing Team had to pay a get-out clause to secure his signature.

“Gilbert had a contract with them, but apparently you don't have that anymore. You'd better expect from someone from the athletic level of Gilbert. A lump-sum payment? That is a matter for the people of Omega Pharma…I've got a headache from this case.”

He knows that his team needs to secure high-ranking riders to ensure it has a ProTeam licence for next season. He confirmed to Sporza that the team is negotiating with Tony Martin and hopes to seal an agreement quickly. The German rider won Paris-Nice and the Volta ao Algarve this year, as well as stages in the Critérium du Dauphiné and the Tour de France.

His current HTC Highroad team will cease to exist at the end of the year due to a lack of a sponsor.


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