Philippe Gilbert's contract with Omega Pharma-Lotto will be modified “instantly” if he should win the world championship, the team has said. The Belgian ProTour team does not want to risk losing a second world champion, after Cadel Evans left the team last year after taking the title in Mendrisio.
Gilbert is currently leading the Vuelta a Espana, going into his third day in the leader's red jersey. The Belgian has traditionally performed best late in the season, and is one of the favourites to win the Worlds title in Melbourne the beginning of October.
"Gilbert's contract was extended at the end of April,” team manager Marc Sergeant told Het Laatste Nieuws. "We have now taken a possible world championship victory into consideration. The contract will be corrected immediately if he takes the rainbow jersey."
Sergeant assumed that the 28-year-old will be the Belgian captain at the worlds, calling him “the best rider of the moment.” National coach Carlo Bomans is scheduled to announce the team next Tuesday. In the absence of sprinter Tom Boonen, who is still suffering from knee problems, Gilbert is expected to be the team's sole leader.
Omega Pharma-Lotto in 2011
Gilbert will have a strong Omega Pharma-Lotto team to support him in 2011, with a number of newcomers. 35-year-old veteran Mario Aerts has re-signed with the team for another two years. The Belgian has been a professional since 1996, and has ridden for the team since 2005. Aerts is also expected to be named to the Worlds team in support of Gilbert.
The biggest change for the Omega Pharma-Lotto team team will be the arrival of Andre Greipel. The German has so far won 18 races for HTC-Columbia, significantly more wins than any other rider in the peloton this year.
Greipel will be supported at Omega Pharma-Lotto by Australia's Adam Hansen, who this year won the Ster Elektrotoer, with several other HTC-Columbia riders rumoured to be also transferring.
Omega Pharma-Lotto has also signed a number of young riders, who will be making their professional or ProTour debut in 2011.