"I just don't kiss arse, so this good old dog didn't sign"
By Sabine Sunderland
Serge Baguet has lifted the veil on his transfer from Lotto-Davitamon to QuickStep in the various Belgian media. Contacted by Cyclingnews, the Belgian National Champion confirmed what appeared in the Gazet Van Antwerpen on Wednesday morning.
"It's true that even after I won the Belgian National Championships, my manager Paul De Geyter got the clear message from the team management that I was more than welcome to leave," said Baguet. "That was a hard pill for me to swallow. I was treated with little respect, even after being true to the squad for all these years. Now the PR manager sings a different tune in HNB yesterday, but that comes as no surprise.
"It is a fact that the team thought I would sign a ridiculous contract - little money and for one year - with Davitamon. It was laughable, and Peter Van Petegem told me immediately he thought I should accept the better offers I was getting from other teams. Because of the respect I felt when talking to Patrick Lefevere, I didn't have to ponder my options for long. The management from Davitamon-Lotto team knew I had different teams interested; they were free to increase their bid. They thought I'd come back with my tail between my legs and were probably a bit surprised that this good old dog didn't sign."
The usually very quietly spoken Baguet is driven by more than disappointment though, and feels he has to speak out for once: "I'm sorry I have to leave the Lotto people disappointed. Apparently they really were in favour of keeping me. I've also got mixed feelings about leaving my trusted teammates; especially Peter is sad I'm going. But you know, it's not really about the money, nor the one-year contract. There's different things which I didn't really understand working with Davitamon these last couple of years."
Like the pyramid reward/bonus system? "That's one of those things. It was supposed to be a fair system, looked great in theory. But fact is that the division of the bonuses raises a lot of question marks. It's got the riders set against each other at the moment. The way it worked out is not ideal. The different team directors have to report to managers Sergeant and Coucke. They decide without giving any stats on who they think deserve the bigger pieces of the bonus cake. It's not surprising that those riders kissing arse with the right people get the most. At the moment, I'm still waiting for my bonuses, including the one I deserved by becoming National Champion. I don't know if I'll see those; I'll keep you posted on that.
"If Coucke and Sergeant thought I have no ambition left, they're wrong. I'm 36, but that is not too old. I'm not wasted and know that I can enjoy another two to three solid seasons. That's what I told Patrick Lefevere. He gave me his word that if next year is good, he'll be giving me a contract for the next season without hesitation. It was good to hear that he does believe in me," conluded Baguet.