By Gregor Brown
The boss of Quick-Step Floors, Patrick Lefevere, is still searching for a new title sponsor to take over the funding of his Belgian super team for 2019 and beyond.
The team tops the wins list with 54 over the 2018 season, its latest coming from Fabio Jakobsen (Quick-Step Floors) in stage one of the BinckBank Tour on Monday. Team Sky is the next best team with 36 wins.
"Quick-Step will stay for at least another three years, but they would prefer to become a second sponsor," Lefevere told Belgian newspaper Het Nieuwsblad, "I do not have that main sponsor yet."
The Belgian flooring company has been the title sponsor since 2003, continuing its support until 2011 and taking up the mantle once again in 2017.
Between 2012 and 2016, it was the second title sponsor with Omega Pharma as the predominant name.
The pharmacy company produces Etixx supplements, the name the team raced under for 2015 and 2016.
The Belgian manager secured several smaller backers in recent years. He welcomed Lidl in September 2015 and at the 2018 Tour de France, he brought on Maes 0.0% beer.
Neither Quick-Step nor Lidl seems to be ready to step up to be the main backer. The team's budget is around €18 million (or £16.1m), compared Team Sky's deep wallets lined with around £31 million which has promoted the re-opening of discussions around budget caps.
"Lidl? They have said from the outset that they do not have the intention to carry the team," Lefevere said.
"I do not really care where the sponsor comes from. That may well be [from] China or Mongolia. As long as they bring real money and no Monopoly money."
Lefevere's team over the last 15 years has included the likes of Paolo Bettini, Stijn Devolder, Tony Martin, Mark Cavendish and Michal Kwiatkowski. The current roster includes Elia Viviani, Philippe Gilbert, Bob Jungels, Niki Terpstra and Fernando Gaviria.
For 2019, the team roster looks to stay nearly the same with young Belgian Remco Evenepoel joining and others still in the air, including 2018 Tour of Flanders winner Niki Terpstra.
"I hear that Bora-Hansgrohe wants Maximilian Schachmann, but I saw his agent on the final day of the Tour de France in Paris and he said he wants to stay," continued Lefevere.
"The Niki file is still pending. If fresh money comes quickly, it will be fine. If there is no money, then we have a problem. Niki is willing to wait a little longer, but that should not take too long."
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