Sporza is reporting that Hilaire Van der Schueren, manager of the outgoing Vacansoleil team, announced today that he has secured the sponsorship of the Wanty, a Belgian construction company (and god's gift to cycling headline writers), and will launch a new team at the Pro Continental level in 2014 featuring classics ace Bjorn Leukemans. Accent Jobs was a secondary sponsor in 2013; the identity of a secondary sponsor going forward should be known soon. Van der Schueren says he has submitted bank guarantees already.
The lineup of the new Wanty squad will become clearer soon, but it's being said that it already includes Grégory Habeaux, James Vanlandschoot, Thomas Degand, Jérôme Gilbert (Phil's bro), Tim De Troyer, Kevin Van Melsen, Roy Jans, Frederik Veuchelen and Wesley Kreder, and Jérôme Baugnies. Several other big names have been mentioned, as tracked by CyclingFever, including Vacansoleil leaders Juan Antonio Flecha, Johnny Hoogerland, and Thomasz Marczynski. To the surprise of nobody, Van der Schueren said the team's main goal is a wildcard invite to the Tour of Flanders as well as other top classics.
In essence, the team is a mix of Accent Jobs guys with some upgraded signings from Vacansoleil, to bump up the current team's profile. Leukemans alone puts them squarely in line for a Ronde invite -- since Accent Jobs got one in 2013 even at their lower level. A tougher call is whether they take the start in Paris-Roubaix. Flecha's presence would help a lot, taking the team's profile out of the strictly regional domain (and not a French-speaking region at that). With Sojasun in jeopardy and perhaps one less World Tour team, the possibility of an opening exists. If Wanty is in Compiegne, it'll be at the end of a very full cobbles calendar and the start of something interesting.