Takeover Notes

There are many angles to the mooted merger of the Jumbo-Visma and Soudal-Quickstep teams, the first being that it’s really not a merger. Let’s explore some of these from the label to the knock-on effect of Tour de France wildcards.

It’s not a merger
You can’t really merge teams unless they’re empty. As you’ll know by now, a team can have no more than 30 riders so merging two teams with existing large rosters is like trying to pour two pints of beer into one pint glass. Without knowing the future structure, or if it even happens, it looks a lot more like a takeover and we ought to call it as such.

Jumbo-Visma needing more sponsorship?
Outwardly the team looked on top of the world and had a great deal with Jumbo where the Dutch supermarket had a rolling deal with a long notice period. But had you noticed how many sponsors were on the jersey? 13 names in total… compared to 15 for the old Androni-Sidermec jersey that everyone mocked for being crowded. Presumably Jumbo was paying the most and by some way but it shows how the team’s been hustling for extra Euros already.

End of season sale
Normally at the end of the season some pro teams hold a sale at their HQ to get rid of used bikes and raise some cash on the side. This time the Soudal-Quickstep team might be having a rider fire sale. Here rival teams are waiting to see which riders are suddenly on the jobs market. Wielerflits says six Quicksteppers might continue, that means over 20 can’t. Some might have deals but they haven’t been announced, for example Rémi Cavagna’s long been mentioned as a hire for Movistar but the majority of riders would have to sign hurried deals with teams who’ve not got much budget or places left.

Late season results
Embed from Getty Images

This time last year you’d watch the results of, say, Paris-Chauny or the Tre Valli Varesine with one eye on the sport and another on a spreadsheet given the relegation rumble happening. Now the actions of Quickstep riders seem to count for double, will Ilan Van Wilder’s triumph in Varese yesterday help to find a better job?

Normally corporate mergers see a concentration of power and regulators tasked with preventing monopoly powers can block them. But this team “merger” could achieve the opposite. Far from regrouping some of the best stage racers together, we’re very likely to see Primož Roglič move to Bora-hansgrohe and probably Remco Evenepoel goes to Ineos so rival teams gain. It’s hardly the scenario a competition regulator would want but all the same it’s dilution, not concentration and this illustrates the deal is being done from a position of weakness, in order to keep one team on the road some of the best riders are going to rivals.

The UCI said yesterday if the merger happens we’ll get a World Tour of 17 teams, as in down from 18 today as Quickstep’s licence can’t be sold on nor can applicants register to fill the vacant spot. This in turn means 17 World Teams at the Tour de France and then the best three second-tier ProTeams get automatic invites, in this case Lotto-Dstny, Israel-PremierTech and Uno-X. This leaves two “wildcards” for ASO to distribute. TotalEnergies probably although this won’t be automatic and perpetual, if they can scoop up Julian Alaphilippe as a late signing then they’re in for sure. The remaining team? Not obvious but Q36.5 and Tudor sort of fit the bill and again they can go shopping for a last minute Quickstepper or two in order to make them more attractive.

Ready to race in 2024
L’Equipe reported that Quickstep’s filed its papers to be registered as a World Tour squad for 2024. No scoop given teams do this between August and October every year, but confirmation all the same that the Belgian team has told the UCI’s Licence Commission that everything’s in place to be a viable team for the coming season. Which makes it harder to then tell the UCI’s Licence Commission that suddenly many riders have to be jettisoned and contracts are invalid. Now the UCI can be presented with a fait accompli as in Soudal’s sponsorship has jumped to another team leaving the Belgian team short of funding but all the same there’ll be some explaining to do, it won’t nod Jumbo’s licence through like normal.


Ineosa are more than spectators. Presumably they’d like to pick up Remco Evenepoel but they’ve also got an empty roster for 2024. It’s October now and they’ve only announced 15 riders for next season. Just as rule 2.15.110 caps a team at 30 riders, it also stipulates a minimum size of 27 riders and a team has to inform the UCI of its roster this month. Now perhaps some contract extensions are a matter of time, like Geraint Thomas, and reports say Tobias Foss’s move is back on after it was off mid-summer. Either way, the team needs a dozen riders.

Last minute save?
HLN reports that Patrick Lefevere could try to keep the his Quickstep licence and race on with the rump of riders left following any takeover by Jumbo-Visma. It’d be a strong team with some prime riders – and if “Quickstep” and the legal entity behind it continues to exist then Evenepoel’s contract presumably stands – but again that minimum team size, rather than riders leaving for other teams he’d have to persuade them to stay and then to meet the regulatory minimum of 27 he’d have to be hiring some extras as well and so finding the budget to keep this team on the road, with Evenepoel or without it won’t be easy.

One Cycling?
Patrick Lefevere mentioned in his newspaper column that the team talks started at a meeting for “OneCycling, a project in which a number of top teams want to unite to position ourselves more strongly”. It’s getting on for a decade ago now that several teams launched Velon only this hasn’t done much, think small deals to sell power data and onboard camera footage and the brief “Hammer Series”. One… to watch.

126 thoughts on “Takeover Notes”

  1. Very interesting summary of the events… can’t wait to see how this plays out. Truly this is a cycling silly season for the ages. And, to be honest, I think this will be good for racing next year. The last thing I wanted to see was another season of J-V dominating the Grand Tours. Congrats to them, but please, never again. They won the third with a domestique – obviously, he’s amazing, but c’mon, no one else could match him? I know, J-V’s tactics smothered all possible chances of another team challenging, and that’s the point, it creates very boring racing.

    Let’s go!

    • I agree but won’t this team be more dominant?

      Most importantly, if you buy a team, you should have to buy (and pay for) all the people – riders and non-riders – till the end of their contracts. Billionaire Bakala can afford to do so, and – by law – should have to do so. But that’s not the world we live in.

      • But is Bakala the buyer here? Isn´t it more like a friendly takeover by Jumbo – Visma where Bakala is the seller (who gets paid with shares of the new company)?

        I don´t think the riders and non-riders whose contracts extend beyond the end of the season are not the losers here; as I understand it, they will get paid by the team they move into if they find one or by SQS if they don´t(*).

        It´s the riders whose contracts expire and the non-riders who are hired for one year at a time who may end up with nothing but a bone (of the ham that got eaten by others) in their hands – and I´m afraid I don´t see a law that would change that situation as a feasible or working solution to the problem.

        (*) If the “What’s left of SQS” -team materializes, all of the above would be secure, sort of, for a year or two. It would probably entail “voluntary” – because most riders would rather ride and be paid less than find themselves without a team – pay cuts, though.

        • Whoever was the owner of the SQS team who signed contracts with staff should have to pay those contracts. If they can get the new owners (or whoever) of the new team (or whatever) to pay those contracts, then good for them. But the staff should be paid – and paid in full for the amount promised. Bakala (or whoever) choosing to sell (or whatever) is his choice and shouldn’t affect agreements he has made with staff.

          It’s always skewed towards the businesses. If people owe a company money, they have to pay, no matter what. You try getting out of a contract you signed with a company.
          If a company owes people money, there are many ways that have been deliberately invented by those with power that the companies can use to weasel out of it.

          • I´m a bit perplexed! I cannot fathom whom you are arguing against:

            (1) has it been stated somewhere that Bakala, as the majority owner of the so called paying agent behind the team SQS, will not honour the contracts, including those running into 2024 or beyond, the team has signed with riders or non-riders?

            (2) I certainly was not of any other opinion (than that the riders and non-riders should be paid in full) in my comment above. It was simply that I thought it a bit premature to accuse him of not paying or even of trying to find a loophole in order to avoid paying.

            I´m probably as far from a radical economic liberalist as you are and I´m certainly not the last bit inclined to call anyone for whom corporations running over people are anathema an anti-business leftie, but I’m willing to give even a somewhat notorious billionaire a chance before I lambast him 🙂

          • Various people were saying that riders on SQS (especially) would have to leave and join other teams, probably on lower-paid contracts because it’s so late in the year and most teams have signed most of their riders.
            Inner Ring’s article says ‘Which makes it harder to then tell the UCI’s Licence Commission that suddenly many riders have to be jettisoned and contracts are invalid.’
            That’s what I was responding to.

  2. So, what happens if a team doesn’t meet the minimum of 27 riders? Has this happened previously? If so, presumably not to the extent that the team has as few as Ineos currently has.

    Surely there must be a move for Remco to Ineos. Will be intriguing to see who else follows

      • The lack of Ineos riders for next year has been the real head scratching part of the whole story. Either Sir Jim has planned to take on a whole bunch of QS & Jumbo guys for a while now, or something’s gone desperately wrong.

        • Good question! Is this guy’s “reverse Midas Touch” that so many refer to making him rethink his backing of this team? I would love to see his “Can’t beat ’em? Buy ’em!” approach fizzle out so he spends his fracking money somewhere else.

    • If I remember UCI rules correctly, if, for any reason a World Tour team ends up with less than 27 riders, the Licence Commission first officially notifies the team about it and gives them 30 days to set things straight. I don’t think any team will go down for this reason (unless the real reason is being totally bankrupt), there are plenty of decent riders on Conti and Development teams that would instantly sign a contract even for a minimal World Tour salary.

    • It’s not like they’re completely devoid of riders.

      Looking at PCS’s transfers page, there are 11 riders on the still leaving list including Rodriguez, Thomas, De Plus and Rowe so assuming that they are all signed up that puts them at 26 for nest year add in Foss and the young American that they’ve apparently signed that leaves a few spots for Remco and a couple of his helpers.

    • @LarryT – that’s a couple of times at least that you’ve put links to your blog in Inrng’s blog. You may not intend it be to disrespectful towards Inrng, but it is.

      • Believe me, the Inner Ring would have let Larry know it, if he had seen it as disrespectful or whatever,
        What I could see as disrespectful towards other readers is not giving the gist of the main point(s) here. If something (related to the subject of the Inner Ring´s entry) is worth writing an entry of your own, it is worth writing a comment here as well 🙂

        Anyway, I read Larry´s take and my take on it is that *everyone* sees the situation as proof of whatever they already thought – or thought they knew – is currently wrong with pro cycling, as a business model, as a spectator sport and so on 🙂

      • Dude, Larry has been contributing, most respectfully, to the discussions here for ages. Most readers will know that he has reasoned opinions that are well worth checking out if you’re a INRNG regular. If IR wouldn’t want him to post, the comments would be zapped immediately.

          • No good deed goes unpunished? Would you prefer me to cut-and-paste my blog post into a response here? I was trying to spare those who don’t care what I think (as noted) from wading through it or scrolling down, but at the same time throw-in my two cents.
            If you prefer I’ll simply not comment at all in the future.
            Finally, please note I’m no longer in the bike tour biz…we decided not to resume once the pandemic restrictions were eased and travel resumed – so my blog makes the same massive profits and costs the same to view as INRNG.com

      • I’m a long time blog reader of inrng, and Larry’s been A LONG TIME READER TOO… he might not always have the most popular opinions, but I don’t see an issue with him posting his link. I think it adds more to the overall engagement of Inrng’s blog forum. This isn’t normal spam – larry isn’t trying to sell us a toothbrush, he is just trying to engage us – and to be honest, even if Larry still was running bicycle tours, I’d appreciate how much he obviously follows Inrng.

        Inrng/all – please don’t discourage Larry from posting his link – he doesn’t do it all the time so it isn’t overburdening, plus I think he would support Inrng in a heartbeat in the reverse role.

        I read Larry’s take – and it was classic Larry, but classic Larry is fine to me. It makes me think outside of the box – and this is coming from someone who knows my own posts aren’t very popular a lot… it just is what it is.

  3. Tour de France 2024km – Evenepoel to Ineos, Roglic to Bora and Pogačar in peak form against Vingegaard. Throw in more flat TT miles, fewer 2000m+ mountain passes, and we might yet have a good yellow jersey race.

    • Is this your first season as a cycling fan? The far-fetched plot twists and convoluted offseason madness has LONG been a key part of this sport. It preceeded Netflix by about 13 decades….

  4. One of the more peculiar off-season moves had been Landa to Soudal-Quickstep. I had assumed that was them solidfying a superdomestique for Remco (not that Landa has that personality). What to make of that move now?

      • That is the only scenario that makes sense.
        The big question to me has been what turn of events led to SQS willing to agree to this merger thing like walking to the slaughter?
        It was in August that Landa signed a two-year-deal and there must presumably have been (1) a grand plan of how to use his capabilities in races and (2) fairly secure – as in deals with both name sponsors signed until 2027 – money in the following years´ budgets to cover both his and his captain´s wages.

        It seems to me – that is to say I´m wildy guessing – that it wasn´t JV that found itself in a bad spot and therefore instigated the merger as an escape plan, it was SQS that somehow got desperate in a hurry,
        (Soudal and QuickStep – or Soudal alone if it is the significantly bigger main sponsor – will no doubt be pleased in July, but I´m not sure it has been the prime mover behind the scenes.)

        Ineos´ lack of activity could indeed be beautifully explained by a certain hunch that SQS riders will become available fairly soon…

        • Here in the comments, it’s being talked about as if the sponsorship is changing now. Whereas in other places it sounds like Jumbo is sponsoring through 2024. So, it may be that this time next year Soudal becomes primary sponsor at yellow lotto (Plugge et al.).

          If it’s a year away, this might all be proper pre planning as opposed to some kind of emergency or fire sale (we don’t know). We might get one more year of the classic Quickstep/PL, maybe even with Remco riding the Tour de France in royal blue with Landa and company as support. Who knows.

          Alternatively, we could get the Free Landa. Remco goes to Ineos. Quickstep doesn’t fold this coming year, and Landa has a free role at Quickstep as their token GC leader. That actually fits with the standard Quickstep/PL modus operandi. Free Landa always wants to ride for himself (he hasn’t really seem that much like a team player in the past, no?), but that really hasn’t amounted to much.

          • What I recall from dutch wieler media is that Jumbo are contracted to sponsor through the 2024 season, but are not renewing – that was notified earlier this year (or last?), and that there are provisions in the deal for the team to put a sponsor in place earlier, if they find one, given Jumbo have given notice. A provision that makes loads of sense, as it’s in both their interests – so not a surprise really.

          • Jumbo willing to pull out at the end of next year is well known and announced several months ago. But I heard a (very unsubstantiated, no source at all, although I would not be surprised if it turned out true) rumour that Jumbo’s sponsorship contract has a clause allowing them to pull out immediately if the team has a doping positive. I’m not sure when the doping authorities are going to finalise the case of Michel Hessmann, it’s been already going for a while.

          • Termination clauses for doping cases, or anything else that causes significant negative public perception for the brand association are standard in those contracts for quite a while I think.

  5. Why own a team if you cannot even sell the license and have it honored? Literally no appreciation of your asset. Another heavy handed ploy by the UCI.

    LeFevere would be better off merging with a well financed ProTour team (cough, cough Lotto DSTNY or Israel Tech) than with Jumbo.

    • “Why own a team if you cannot even sell the license and have it honored?”
      Perhaps because you like cycling? Does everything have to be boiled-down to MONEY? North America has plenty of places (NFL, MLB, NBA, etc.) plutocrats can use their wealth in…does pro cycling have to be one of ’em as well? I wonder what will be said (by non Brits) about SKYNEOS’ affect on the sport years from now.

  6. Given Ineos’ situation, I kept assuming they were preparing to merge with QS the obvious target. Par must really hate them to go into JV’s arms instead.

  7. Hey INRNG, thanks for a great blog as usual.

    I have an idea: You should charge for those who wish to advertise for products/websites etc. in the comments. Just a small monthly fee, it’s only fair for the advertising space, as it is a loyal fanbase you built up over the years. What do you say?

    • Personally I think it would frustrate the conversation, one minute we’re talking about two cycling teams, suddenly along comes, say a company hawking BBQ accessories.

      I’m looking at some t-shirts for supporters as a way to help this site keep going… but as ever time spent exploring t-shirts is time spent not actually writing a blog post, not in the comments, not researching things and so on so it’s something to do but often on the backburner.

      • The kit – both jersey and socks – was fantastic and remains among my go-to items for long rides.

        I’d happily buy a T-shirt as a way to help fund the site. Or just donate. (I know that’s been discussed before….)

      • T-shirt, yes please!

        I bought your cap yonks ago. Didn’t buy kit, as it was plastic – I prefer merino for jerseys. You could get someone like CimaCoppi.cc to do an Inrng design though! 🙂

      • We could just make it easier for you and pay a subscription. I’d do it in a heartbeat and I’m sure 99.9% of us here would. And we wouldn’t expect anything more than we get now (well, apart from maybe daily Vuelta coverage!!) as it’s an amazing cycling site and forum already

      • One of the many things that makes this little corner of the internet so appealing is that it isn’t plastered in adverts for companies hawking a better mousetrap. That said, our host truly deserves to benefit from this site: it is an achievement that is going unrewarded.

        Patreon or ‘buy me a coffee’ style solutions would be simple answer and would probably be popular ( but then the service provider is taking a cut), and there isn’t really any ‘fun’ in the process. Asking for Patreon exclusive content is asking the host to do more, and nobody is looking for that.

        A simple to administrate fundraising idea might be an annual raffle? Take something cycling culture adjacent, reasonably valuable, relatively rare, nice, but portable (so it can be shipped easily), brand it accordingly, and sell raffle tickets for it. eg a high end espresso machine ( a Linea Mini perhaps, retails around 5k GBP): an exclusive INRING branded machine would generate a lot of ticket sales ( INRING lurkers, hordes of coffee drinkers, perhaps even LarryT? ).

        If branding was too onerous, a simple engraved plate or even a Sharpie autograph would be enough (although I can imagine La Marzocco or Rocket, or any of the usual suspects would be interested in creating it). Our host might have fun selecting an item and personalizing it ( not a time consuming process) then has the burden of shipping one package.

  8. Many retailer sponsorships use those 10+ vendors to buy their slotting fees/shelf space via the sponsorship. Most be come self funding. So it’s surprising Jumbo even has/had money in the deal.
    They’re continuing the skating team.

    • The skating team has split from the combined organisation, it was announced a few weeks ago, it won’t be under the Jumbo name as they have ended all their sports sponsorship because of the fraud investigation.

      • The fraud investigation had nothing to do with the Jumbo supermarket chain, except that their former CEO was involved, and as such they aren’t leaving cycling sponsoring because of that.

        * The new CEO/leadership of the company doesn’t seem to be interested in sports sponsoring as much as the old CEO was; they think it doesn’t bring them enough RoI
        * the chain used the cycling sponsoring to gain name recognition in Belgium before attempting to expand into the Belgian market; the name recognition part worked, but the market expansion seems to be failing mostly

        • It looks to me like dumping the sports sponsorships (which included using company money to pay for Frits van Eerd’s own Pro-Am racing team with him as the Amateur and pro drivers including two ex-F1 drivers) is the new regime’s way of distancing itself from all the baggage associated with Frits van Eerd.

          It doesn’t matter that none of the sport sponsorships have been directly linked to the criminal charges (not yet, at least) so much as it having been the symbol of Frits van Eerd’s leadership.

  9. Maybe this is the Lefevre Machiavellian Disaster Capitalism Retirement Master Plan all along, to somehow ”merge” with both JV *and* Another Team??

  10. I feel for all the staff who lose their jobs the low ranking riders who had a good gig but can’t easily find another and no one seems to give a toss about them . The UCI I imagine will do nothing but make a meaningless fuss and that will be that .Next season will un fold minus several mechanics , soigneurs
    and low ranking domestiques.

    • According to Lefevere’s plan (if he can pull it off), none of the QS riders & staff would be fired really (although some would probably be allowed to leave, or asked to reduce salaries maybe?).

  11. I make it 9 steppers have left already BALLERINI, bagioli, Vernon, declerk, morkov, schmid, SÉNÉCHAL, devenyns and jakobsen. Plus probably cavagna.

  12. If the reports are correct the dust seems to be settling on this quite nicely. A change is as good as a holiday and there are a lot of them … plus Roglic gets a dignified glide path into retirement.

  13. What to make of the latest reports that Lefevere is still going to try to hold on to the QuickStep license and keep the team running? Jumbo get to asset-strip QuickStep’s best riders and their title sponsor and Lefevere gets what out of the deal, exactly? None of this makes any sense, and I hope there’s some degree of transparency after the dust settles, because right now it’s all very odd.

    • Probably means that the deal has been brokered by the real majority owner of the team. I think Lefevere is about 20% (correct me if i am wrong). The majority owner would like to not continue forking out big bucks and the main sponsor Soudal would like to go to a stronger team. Jumbo has overspent and would like some of those sweet Soundal $.
      Even though you can’t sell the license surely the only way to continue the team is to let Lefevere to assume 100% ownership of what’s left. This sounds underfunded and under capitalised.
      Can Lefevere then sell what’s left of the team so effectively whoever buys the team will get the license and the points. So if any rich person or group can swoop in with money and buy a world tour team at a discount.

      • Sounds plausible and also a bit sad…whatever one might think of PL he’s been at the top of the sport for years and his exit path looks pretty bumpy and not particularly lucrative compared with other sports, that’s cycling I guess. Perhaps he hopes to sell to Sylvan Adams, he seems to pay good prices.

        • I think Lefevere’s got different interests to majority owner Bakala. Lefevere’s all set for retirement, has nice wine cellar and is seen as the godfather of Flemish cycle sport. He can retire any day he choses, he doesn’t have to sell out or do a deal. But scuttling Belgium’s best cycling team on his way out is not a good look, he’ll be blasted in the media and hounded by questions so you can see why he’s interested in saving the team. But he’s got two weeks to this day to find sponsorship to keep his team going.

          • Indeed, and let’s not forget there are two more teams involved: the SQS devo team and the QG-Soudal women’s team which are also part owned by Lefevere/bakala but seem to be different ‘paying agents’ than the SQS men’s WT team. Bakala can’t co-own competing outfits so he has to sell off his stake in both too if he joins Plugge-Visma as they already have both a women’s and a devo squad. Actually there ar six teams involved where three are under one consolidated management structure (JV) and three are more of a web of cooperating oufits (SQS).

          • @stevhanti – if the takeover was still on, the development team would not be an issue so long as it is correctly registered with the UCI.

            Other teams have had multiple development teams linked at the same time, the only restriction is that they can’t enter the same race as the other development team. There are enough races in Europe that Continental and U23 teams can steer clear of each other.

  14. Whoa – if Van Aert joins Roglic at Bora, that will have a huge effect on the peloton next year.

    WVA’s effect on the 2022-2023 Yellow Jerseys cannot be underestimated. Without going into too much detail, but I don’t think Jonas wins at least 1 of those Tours if WVA isn’t there.

  15. I still find the respective motivations in all this odd. J-V are the world’s strongest/best team by most measures, yet seem to be in a position of relative weakness that they need new sponsorship. SQS seemingly has no such worries (at the moment), yet seem to want to go from a position of relative (sponsorship) strength to essentially closing the team and continuing only 6(?) of their riders with …-V, whilst letting go many more and staff. Why do that unless key players want to drive it? PLef wants out, but could his 20% of SQS be offered for sale instead? Does Bakala want to be part of J-V now instead (a bigger team)? Does Soudal now see an opportunity to ‘upgrade’ leaving SQS less viable (yet they’ve got their paperwork in for 2024)? Other?

    This isn’t a ‘merger’, it’s more a take-over and ‘asset strip’. I’m still puzzled why SQS were ‘happy’ for it to happen (I know it’s only key people at SQS), when for them there was no pressing need.

    • Indeed, Soudal & Bakala simply ditching a well functioning and pretty succesful team just like that. It is very worrisome. If they wanted Lefevere to go that could’ve been arranged without all this drama I think so they are really looking for something else entirely. It’s not good.

      Also I’ve been thinking that next year there may be more money floating around in pro cycling than ever since all these breached contracts will have to be payed off and the new contracts must be honoured financially as well.

    • I agree, given that Jumbo will still be paying sponsorship through 2024, why has a scenario emerged that looks more like a last ditch rescue? Couldn’t Soudal have found a more straightforward way to extract themselves from their contract with Team Lefevre if they want to switch teams? Why doesn’t Plugge just keep searching for a new title sponsor elsewhere?

    • I am equally confused by all this. What is the motivation of the main actors?

      1. Jumbo-Visma: Is this purely a consequence of them looking for a sponsor to replace Jumbo? Has Soudal been their best option?

      2. Soudal: Do they want to change the team, but can only do this if Soudal-Quickstep is disbanded?

      3. Soudal-Quickstep: Do the team owners try to close the team that makes them a profit, assuming that no better opportunity will come their way in the near future? Have they come under pressure from Soudal?

      4. Ineos Grenadiers (regarding motivation to have a half-empty roster at this point): Did they know/anticipate that a significant number of top riders would become available?

      Is this a fair summary? Could someone please explain? No criticism of the excellent blog entry, but I am somehow lost in the details… Thanks!

      • To be honest, no one except for the team management at the various teams, knows exactly what the heck is going on.
        Roglic and his coach is off to Bora seems to be 100% certain and Ineos lack of guys for next year. There are a few things we know – Jumbo needing a sponsor from 2025, Landa going to QS next year and Carlos Rodriguez after a on again, off again move to Movistar, is staying at Ineos.
        Whether any of this has to do with Sir Jim’s attempt to take over Manchester United soccer team (his childhood heroes apparently) or Sir Dave B being called back from his Nice caravan, are still more unknowns.
        The irony of Jumbo building a team that could win Grand Tours and one day classics, then having problems finding a sponsor is amusing, and worrying at the same time.
        The big question is, will this whole saga be a Netflix series?

      • It’s hard to answer these questions precisely, especially as the team’s haven’t said publicly they’re talking although we can take it as read they are.

        On 1. yes, a lot of this seems driven by Jumbo’s exit and the team needs a replacement and it needs it fast.

        2. We don’t know the “if” part, it’s in the small print of contracts.

        On 3. no teams make a real profit, nobody invests in a cycling team to make money. What goes in goes out although if you own a team you can charge money as a manager etc.

    • Just a follow up on this, and in relation to the latest talk of PLef keeping …QS going next year with ‘what’s left’.

      If Bakala does want to leave SQS and get behind J-V, what would PLef need to do with Bakala’s current 80% stake in the holding company. I assume PLef would need to find a way to buy Bakala out (assuming Bakala wouldn’t just give it away)…which seems a challenge? This is of course assuming this ‘phoenix team’ would be aiming at staying World Tour with that existing license(?). I say that as Pete Cossins on the Radio Cycling podcast suggested it would actually be Pro Team…so I guess a whole new entity/holding company (albeit bringing sponsors over from ‘old’ team).

      Assuming the above….that would leave that 18th World Tour license still with Bakala – is that allowed if he is involved in …-V? Would he have to give it up?

      • If Bakala wants to become a shareholder of TJV, then it is him who really needs to do something with his 80% share in SQS (because UCI rules make it forbidden for him to be behind two teams holding a WT licence). If nobody else wants it, he may have no other choice than to give it to Lefevere for some symbolic money.

    • The motivations are indeed weird. I suspect it started off with quite understandable individual motivations:
      – Bakala wanted out
      – Lefevere wants to step back and retire, get some of his money back, but still have some involvement
      – Blanco Pro Cycling B.V. (the legal entity behind the Jumbo-Visma team, most likely) needed to find a replacement for departing sponsor Jumbo

      So they were all looking for options, which got them to start talking, and they each were too enthused about the possibility of getting the things they wanted, to stop and think about the mess.

      In particular – as someone else has noted – Lefevere probably didn’t think it through completely. Given he wants to preserve his legacy and doesn’t want to go out being seen as the man who scuttled Belgian’s leading WT team, and left a lot of riders and staff short.

      Basically, it’s a mess, particularly cause the media got hold of it.

      • Whilst I an easily imgine all of those stakeholders becoming “too enthused”, (a lovely turn of phrase, that), it’s more difficult to imagine Lefevre not joining the dots: I would have though he valued his reputation more than that. At this point, he’s in very great danger of becoming ‘The man who turned the wolfpack into a dog’s breakfast”.

        I’m glad the media got hold of it: perhaps that saves the sport from yet another sportwash team.

  16. Is this situation just a symptom of the fact that underneath it all road-racing is in large part a vehicle for money laundering and tax avoidance?

        • It’s not a hunch wrt Jumbo (the business). The former Jumbo CEO Frits van Eerd has been investigated for using sports sponsorship for money laundering (other sports, motor sports was the focus – not the Jumbo-Visma cycling team!). Van Eerd may still face prosecution for this, as the case is ongoing.

  17. A housekeeping note to say this blog is probably moving server in the coming days and while hopefully this transfer is done smoothly, some comments will get lost.

    So will try to answer queries, discuss things here in the meantime but if you come back tomorrow/Sunday and find the same “Takeover Notes” post is here but your comments have gone it’s just because a version of the website was saved yesterday to be uploaded to the new server and changes since won’t be copied across.

    • Doesn´t the linked news story tell us that while Amazon will not become a sponsor, PON will, in one way or the other.

      PON is, among other things, the company behind the Cervélo bikes, so a guess as good as any is that we´ll see a team called Visma – Cervélo. Or Visma – Something powered by Cervélo 🙂

      • My guess is that the licence is not directly held by Bakala and Lefevere, but by a holding company in which they are shareholders.

        Cash flow is matters a lot more in cycling than ownership, so Bakala Transferring shares in the holding company would not count as a change

    • Soudal & Evenepoel both have running contracts with Decolef (the company behind Lefevere’s team), so they can’t easily leave… (And Soudal definitely want to stay in cycling as a sponsor, so if not at Blanco Pro Cycling then the easiest is to stay where they are.)

    • Interesting to hear G. Thomas – on that link – say, ‘Remco hates Jumbo and Jumbo hate Remco. You should see what Roglic says about Remco’.

      • To be fair, that is from a not-always-to-be-taken-serious humor-filled podcast Thomas makes, so while there might be some truth about it, it’s probably blown up out of proportion for comedic effect…

  18. BC
    Why do you feel sorry for the riders and staff ? The merger deal off is fantastic news. For cycling in general, for Evenepoel, his teammates and staff. OK, they had two terrible weeks. But next season, they’ll be super motivated. Moreover the GC-team consisting of Landa, Van Wilders, Cattaneo, Van Sevenant, Hirt and even the youngsters Lamperti and Lecerf, is not that weak. Maybe not as strong as Jumbo, Emirates and also Bohra (with Roglic), but more of average.

    • Don’t forget Vervaeke, Masnada, Huby (won the GC in the Course de la Paix U23 race & was 2nd in L-B-L U23 this year) & Černý (not for long climbs, but he’s good to keep a high tempo on the first part of a climb or that sort of thing).

      And SQS needs at least 4 more riders for next season on top of the currently 24 announced riders (to have the mandatory 27-30 riders for a WT team).

    • I agree. The more riders are competing against each other, the better. And the fewer super-teams, the better.
      This whole thing was a nonsense from the start.

    • @ Jean. Many riders and staff had no idea what the future had in store for them for two weeks.
      If you have a family and financial commitments this is not a good position to be left in.

    • There are probably several things involved.

      Roglič leaving probably means the short-term budget issues caused by Jumbo’s departure are gone.

      Extra incoming money (from PON and maybe Amazon?) might be relevant too.

      Maybe even the complaints from the SQS riders about the uncertainty of their future had some effect too, who knows…

      • By the latter, I mean that e.g. Soudal might have figured out that it wouldn’t look too good on them PR-wise if a bunch of Belgian riders would have their career disturbed by them…

      • Apparently PON opposed the merger, as that would have brought Specialized in as a bike sponsor (because Remco has a personal deal with them), but there is the existing contract with PON/Cervélo, and they didn’t want to lose their sponsorship for Vingegaard, WVA, etc.

        But they also offered some extra money to help the team out.

    • For me, J-V have done well to get rid of Roglic. He was no doubt expensive to have on the team and in Ving. they have a superior grand tour rider.

      Roglic (as he did with blaming Fred Wright for Roglic crashing into him in last year’s Vuelta) showed his true colours at the Vuelta. He’s very good at PR and at saying nothing, but when push came to shove, he wanted to take the win from the guy who helped him to win all four of his grand tours. And when the team said ‘no’ (finally), he left. Surely nobody is under any delusion that he’s a ‘such a nice guy’ as I consistently heard previously.

      For me, Roglic has faded as a grand tour force – he only just beat Thomas at the Giro and he would never have beaten Ving. at the Vuelta had they been allowed to race it.

      • Don’t forget he started the Giro sick and also crashed, also it wasn’t exactly a normal Grand Tour due to the multiple days of horrible weather. I don’t recall another GT quite like it anyway.

      • re: “[Roglic] showed his true colours at the Vuelta”

        I forget which Vuelta stage exactly, but it was Vingegaard who made the first serious attack against both Kuss & Roglic. Vingo was around 2 minutes behind, and IIRC attacked with several km remaining, while Roglic stayed behind with Kuss.
        What’s up with that ?!
        I sensed Vingo wanted to make a statement and cement his role as undisputed 2024 TdF leader, at everyone else’s expense.
        Vingo’s rationalization for the stage was lame .. “I wanted to win it for my daughter’s birthday”. As if a 1-yr child/infant would have any idea what was even going.
        And on top of that, J-V team deciding the Vuelta needed a “2nd co-leader”
        If I was Roglic, I’d be pissed off, too.
        Much as I like Kuss, I dont think he’s consistent enough to be a genuine GC leader. J-V had two proven GC leaders, now they have one.
        At next year’s TdF, with competition from Remco, Roglic, and Pogacar, Vingo may be too burned out to win the Vuelta outright.
        heck, J-V may not even win TdF next year. It will be a 4-way race for GC

        • I agree with you on Ving. – he attacked Kuss just as much as Roglic did.
          But I’ve read a lot of people write about how ‘nice a guy’ Roglic is, whereas I haven’t read that about Ving. Roglic has had some excellent PR training: smilingly saying ‘I hope he wins’ about Kuss, having just attacked him on Angrilu.

    • I think the UCI setting the time table and stating implicitly that you can’t sink a team’s staff and riders just to get their sponsor probably had more effect than Roglič as an external factor. But it’s just as likely that the teams were aware of this and couldn’t square the deal.

      Worrying over Jumbo’s image following the antics on the Angliru looks quaint now given their phagocyte ploy on a rival team.

    • Possibly but no return to the status quo ex ante. Jumbo-Visma management have some explaining to do, and new sponsorship/financial security to announce quickly; Soudal has to sort things out as a sponsor with the Quickstep team management, will Lefevere and Bakala continue together, does Evenepoel stay put? This and more.

      • What about Ineos, is it reasonable to think they can still put a decent team together with or without Remco? Have they miscalculated big time?

        • Oh seeing NBs comment above I realise it’s not that bad, they just haven’t confirmed with a bunch of riders who are out of contract but will most likely renew, I’d forgotten that.

          • Only that “thank god, we can bring together 27 riders in the end” can’t possibly be the goal for the team with still biggest budget in cycling. They’re nowhere near to have a possible Grand Tour winner.
            Yeah, I know, G, but he didn’t win one this year and he still isn’t getting any younger.

      • To be clear it wasn’t a comment about your take on the story, rather than on the story itself : cheap combinations to try and steal a sponsor that fail miserably, bolting of the medias and social networks, etc. But as you say there will be some moral and PR consequences, particularly for Jumbo and Plugge.

  19. Pons, a Dutch multinational with an annual turnover of 7.5 billion Euros are the new sponsors for Jumbo -Visa. The word is that Amazon have dropped out!
    The one outstanding question is what will Evenepoel do.
    INEOS remains a mystery, with only Rodriguez as a potential GT podium.

  20. @JanC. Agree. There are many, many well known companies associated with PON and also the pro-racing scene. Cervelo is one and SKODA another. Plenty of potential.

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