Teams RadioShack and Leopard-Trek will merge next season according reports in newspapers L’Equipe and La Gazzetta dello Sport. The teams, however, have yet to announce or confirm any such plans.
“This has been going on for a couple of days. What’s said, has been said,” Leopard-Trek’s press officer, Tim Vanderjeugd told Cycling Weekly. “It’s rumours. I can’t comment on it.”
Italian newspaper La Gazzetta dello Sport today said that Leopard’s backer, Luxembourger Flavio Becca wants someone else to manage his star rider, Andy Schleck. It reported that current general manager, Brian Nygaard will leave to become team GreenEDGE’s press officer. Before joining Leopard, he worked for many years as a press officer with Saxo Bank and for a half-year with Sky.
Nygaard was unavailable when Cycling Weekly called. GreenEDGE’s general manager, Shayne Bannan explained that he has not spoken to Nygaard about the role.
Becca is said to want Belgian Johan Bruyneel to lead his team. Bruyneel is the current general manager of RadioShack and has nine Tour de France wins – he guided Lance Armstrong to seven, 1999 to 2005, and Alberto Contador to two, 2007 and 2009.
Schleck finished twice second to Contador and this year, second to Cadel Evans.
Bruyneel’s American team has links to Becca’s team via Trek, the bicycle sponsor. The new team will reportedly be called RadioShack-Trek, incorporating many of Bruyneel’s riders.
RadioShack recently renewed its sponsorship contact for two years, 2012 to 2013. Its press officer was unavailable when called for this article.
Becca guaranteed enough money to Leopard for four years, through 2014. Besides Becca and Trek, the team is sponsored by Enovos (an energy company that mostly serves Luxembourg, the team’s base), Craft (Swedish sportswear company) and Mercedes Benz (Luxembourg division of German car company).
RadioShack riders Ben Hermans and Gregory Rast have already signed to Leopard-Trek for the 2012 season.