It's been a story of on again/off again in the belgian media these last weeks wether this would happen or not. De Gendt originally had a contract for 2014 with the folding Vacansoleil team and it has been unclear where he would end up for 2014. OPQS was rumored early, just like they are for any belgian rider who has managed to scrape together any sort of success-record. Belgian superstars to the belgian superteam and all that... Problem was that Lefevere had already filled his superteam to the brim what with all the talents and in-fashion Colombians he had hovered off the market , so there was allegedly only one spot left open. That spot was between 2013 revelation Jan Bakelants and De Gendt and when Bakelants was signed the other day the window seemed shut.
Then, in an unlikely turn of events it turned out that the verbal agreement Lefevere had with Janier Acevedo (a.k.a. Colombian Climbing Sensation No 37) wasn't worth the paper it was written on when the sneaky little dude went and signed with Vaughters' (a.k.a Patillas del Mal) Team Garmin. How anyone could do something like that to Patrick Lefevere, that paragon of virtue, is beyond me, I'm shocked I tell you. So suddenly there was a spot open after all, which all in all was probably lucky because Mr De Gendt doesn't seem to have been making many friends lately with his somewhat cocky attitude. All bridges with his old Vacansoleil team seemed burned since they somehow appear to have fired him from a job that didn't even exist. I dunno, some lawyer will have to explain the point of all that to me.
His old DS Hilarious Hilaire van Shueren seemed keen to bring him along to his new fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants team Wanty, even to the point were he prematurely indicated that De Gendt was already onboard. Presumably he was counting on a desperate rider to sign a contract were he was almost literally paid in peanuts but, much like Leukemans, De Gendt was having none of it. So Omega Pharma it is.
So what will come out of this last minute marriage? OPQS are really shooting with buckshots for 2013. The team that was once upon a time singularly focused on winning two Sundays in April and then living out the rest of the year in the single longest post-season party anywhere in sports is now suddenly.......less focused. Going by their roster they will be focusing on winning all sprints everywhere with Cav & PrinceHarry, all TTs everywhere with Panzerwagen Tony, all cobblesraces everywhere with Boonen& Co, going for GCs with Uran, Poels, and Kwiatkowski (who may win a few monuments as well along the way). Then guys like Stybar, Bakelants and new sensation Alaphillippe will probably score wins in the few remaining races that the earlier mentioned haven't covered . And it's probably here Crazy Thomas fits in, if he ever really fits in anywhere. As an opportunistic wild card rider in the bigger races he will give the Omegas an unpredictable trump card in many of the bigger races. And when I say unpredictable I think he's unpredictable to the team management as well. He quite clearly, as talented as he is, isn't a guy you build your team around. He's like the least dependable rider out there at the moment. But, as a last minute pickup, on the cheap as well one would have to assume, he is a brilliant signing.
Lefevere has said that Thomas d G could be a prolific race winner under the right management. Is that management Lefevere and his merry band of chunky belgians and lanky danish hipsters with a u-boat-fixation? Well that remains to be seen but for now we can only sigh with relief that we will get to see The Crazy in the biggest races next year too and he won't fall off the map like it seemed like he might.Not a bad bit of Friday news to kick off the weekend.