I first saw it mentioned on twitter then found out the source from the Gazet Van Antwerpen, GVA.be. The idea is that team sponsors in the Omega Pharma – Lotto team are not seeing eye to eye on their partnership.
Lotto are the longest team sponsor in existence, being involved in one way or another with Belgian pro teams since the 1980s. Omega Pharma have been behind the team for some time, using different product names for the team like Bodysol, Predictor and Silence. But now it seems there are differences over the future of the team.
Team captain Philippe Gilbert has a contract to 2012 but has been offered a deal by Astana says the GVA, which could be in place if his current team stops. This isn’t the first time I’ve seen the Kazakh team mentioned and note that Gilbert and Alexadner Vinokourov are near neighbours in Monaco. The same piece suggests Marc Madiot is interested in Jurgen Roelandts too in order to get some precious points in a bid to get the French team renewed ProTeam status.
It’s only mid-April but already the transfer season could be getting underway. Tom Boonen’s contract is up at the end of the year too and his future is already becoming a bit of a saga with Quick Step boss already trying to depress Boonen’s value whilst the rider’s crafty agent Paul de Geyter is already saying other teams could sign Tommeke Tom.
On top of this you’ve got other riders and teams looking for changes. It’s safe to say Leopard-Trek might look to sign a helper or two for Cancellara, I suspect his near-misses this year in Flanders and Roubaix will encourage him to make amends next year instead of changing goals for Liège–Bastogne–Liège.
Europcar is looking to boost its budget too, to take the sponsorship well beyond France. Plus there’s the arrival of the new Aussie Greenedge team who might have already signed some riders but they will look to add as well. Plus there’s the possibility of Mark Cavendish going to Team Sky or BMC Racing. And more.
The UCI rules officially allow contract negotiations to start later in the season. But we’re only in the early part of the 2011 season and plans for 2012 are well under way.