Jan Bakelants has announced that he will ride for Omega Pharma-QuickStep next season after spending the past two years at RadioShack. The Belgian had previously reached a verbal agreement to join the proposed new team backed by Fernando Alonso, but Bakelants was left without a contract for 2014 when the Formula 1 driver’s negotiations to take rescue Euskaltel-Euskadi failed last week.
“I have a team for next year. From January 1, I will wear the jersey of Omega Pharma-QuickStep,” Bakelants wrote in a column in Gazet van Antwerpen. “It’s an enormous relief. I wanted to have my future sorted before the world championships.”
Bakelants is part of Belgium’s seven-man team for the Worlds and he demonstrated his condition with victory at the GP de Wallonie last week. The 27-year-old has enjoyed the best form of his career in a recent purple patch that included stage victory and a spell in the yellow jersey at the Tour de France.
Omega Pharma-QuickStep manager Patrick Lefevere had made no secret of his desire to sign either Bakelants or Thomas De Gendt of the soon-to-be defunct Vacansoleil team to complete his roster for 2014, and he moved swiftly to conclude a deal this week. Bakelants has signed a one-year deal with Omega Pharma-QuickStep.
“I really wanted to join Patrick Lefevere’s team and he really wanted me,” Bakelants said. “With a man of that calibre, negotiations didn’t take long and we quickly reached an agreement. I’ve signed for a year and I feel like I’ve come home.”
Bakelants said that he had yet to discuss his precise role at Omega Pharma-QuickStep, but hinted that he might play an important role in the Ardennes Classics.
“I rode with a lot of the guys on the team as a young rider with Beveren 2000, so I shouldn’t have any problems adapting,” he said. “We haven’t discussed my precise role, but I could be a good reinforcement for the Ardennes Classics.”