According to Belgian newspaper De Morgen, the rumours which have been around for a while are true: Omega Pharma and Lotto are about to break up in 2012. One of them wants to be more Belgian, the other sponsor is aiming for a more international image. To find out which is which, and more importantly - WHAT WILL HAPPEN TO GILBERT - go look after the jump.
Come on. It's more interesting than the wedding.
A pat on the back to those of you that guessed that Lotto wants to be Belgian and Omega wants the world. Is this surprising? Not even a little bit.
You see, Lotto is owned by the Belgian government, and the new Belgian superteam (super!) will have government backing. Secondary sponsor would be Belgacom. The telecom company (partly owned by ... the Belgian government) was rumoured to be one of the sponsors interested in Team Lay-O-pard, which caused a bit of turmoil in Belgium. Why would Belgacom, a Belgian company, back a Luxembourgian team? What was wrong with out own teams? Well, nothing apparently. Belgacom have officially confirmed that they are talking with Lotto about a new 2012 cycling team, so this isn't just baseless rumours.
Tertiary sponsors: Adecco. The interim company is headed by CEO Patrick De Maeseneire, who quite likes cycling and has previously dabbled in the peloton when he was at the head of Chocolade Jacques.
And what about Gilbert? Gilbert knows nothing. "I only know what I read in the press. I've never seen anything like this, it's all quite bizarre. The team is having its best year ever, and still there's a change that the cooperation stops. But apparently, the two sponsors don't get along anymore. I'll wait and see what happens. I don't have a deadline, and with the results I've got got I don't need to worry. There are plenty of candidates to negotiate with me."
So, where do we think he'll end up?
- LOTTO - Yeah, duh. A Belgian superteam will want the best cyclist (Belgian and international) in the world in their team. There's more though. Gilbert is a loyal man. More important than money (rumour: €3mil yearly salary) to him is a team made for him, with the right managers, the right ds, the right teammates. After Amstel, he gave all his teammates €5000 from his own pocket, because they did so much work for him. He wants the freedom to pick his guys. Vacansoleil, you know you're gonna loose Leukemans, right?
- QUICK-STEP - no, I'm not kidding. Quick-Step, now with extra heavy bags of Czech cash, want Philippe Gilbert. Tombo and Gil on the same team? I think I might die. Would it work? Don't know. Do you? Please tell me in the comments!
About the others, nothing is known. Greipel and VDB, where do we think they'll go?