Brice Feillu said that he and his fellow Leopard Trek riders received no notice that the team was going to merge with RadioShack ahead of Monday evening’s announcement. The Frenchman admitted that he is already tentatively looking for a new team for next year.
“There was no announcement, no message to say that the team was going to stop, as happened with Agritubel [which disbanded in 2009 – ed],” Feillu told L’Équipe. “Officially, I haven’t received anything, like the other riders concerned. Martin Mortensen confirmed as much to me on the telephone. Of course, we’re trying to find out more from the staff, but it remains unclear.”
Rumours concerning the joint future of the Leopard Trek and RadioShack teams began to gather pace two weeks ago. “It was circulating in the peloton in Plouay [on August 28] and as the race was long, we had time to talk about it,” Feillu said. “It worried me, but nothing more.
“People were talking above all about the departure of Brian Nygaard and the arrival of Johan Bruyneel. But it was vague, it was never really clear. I was waiting for the Leopard team to give me information that I didn’t have. Now, it’s more than a rumour.”
Although Feillu penned a two-year deal with Leopard Trek last winter, the 2009 Tour de France stage winner accepts that he may be on the move for the third consecutive season. Feillu rode for Vacansoleil in 2010, but left the Dutch squad after they failed to secure an invitation to any of the Grand Tours last season.
Feillu started the Giro d’Italia for Leopard Trek, but withdrew along with the rest of the team following the tragic death of Wouter Weylandt in the opening week. He envisages a return to a French team in 2012.
“If I really must be shown the door, I’d rather return to a French team,” Feillu said. “These past two years abroad have been a good experience. I’ve learnt some things, but above all English…”
After two frustrating seasons, the 26-year-old Feillu is hopeful that his past achievements will stoke the interest of a number of teams.
“I hope to interest many, even if I haven’t done a whole lot these past two years. But what I’ve already done, I’m convinced I can do again, and even better.”