Quick-Step Floors team boss Patrick Lefevere is unsure about the continuation of one of cycling’s top squads beyond 2017. He says that he will decide on the future of his team before the Tour de France in July.
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“The sponsorship agreement that we have only covers this season and we still haven’t managed to find someone who can take the place of the Quick-Step,” Lefevere told Het Nieuwsblad newspaper.
“In four months, we’ll look at everything and before the Tour de France, we will decide the fate of the team.”
The team began in 2003 with the rise of classics star Boonen. The Flemish star will retire after racing into the Paris-Roubaix velodrome this April 9.
Lefevere’s team over the last 15 years has included Paolo Bettini, Stijn Devolder, Tony Martin, Mark Cavendish and Michal Kwiatkowski. The current roster includes Philippe Gilbert, Dan Martin, Bob Jungels, Niki Terpstra and Fernando Gaviria.
For five years, Lefevere counted on title sponsor Omega Pharma. The pharmaceutical company produces supplement Etixx, the name the team raced under for 2015 and 2016.
Flemish businessman Marc Coucke sold Omega Pharma to US manufacturer Perrigo Company for €3.6 billion (£3.07b) in March 2015.
“I know, so far I’ve always worked with people in a circle of 20 kilometres around me. People from Flanders. But that circle has grown.
“I am not blind: cycling is a reflection of the global economy. China has bought half of Africa, the Arabs have half of football in their possession.
“I remain confident, and it is right to be: the team is strong and has started the season well, we already have 12 wins and many valuable champions. And we are entering the period of the season is most important for us, the classics. We have a work on several fronts, but we are ready.”
The Flemish flooring company Quick-Step may still continue to sponsor the team. Lefevere is talking with them first.
“But they need time and we do not have time, otherwise we risk not finding available riders. And the agents are already alarmed…”
Lefevere added that he is not in a hurry and that he has “never been so calm”. He did warn his riders not to start riding for themselves and for contract deals
“Look, if you’re really so hopeless that you have no confidence in me and cannot wait until May or June then you’re not in the right team.”