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Philippe Gilbert (Omega Pharma-Lotto)
Manager says decision not taken yet
Philippe Gilbert is not in a hurry to sign a contract for next year. The new King of Belgian Classics is giving potential teams enough time to sort out their long-term finances, as his manager, Vincent Wathelet, pointed out that Gilbert's primary concern is a three-year deal and the stability that comes with it.
"According to the rumour mill, it's already decided which jersey he will wear next year. But that's nonsense," Wathelet told Het Nieuwsblad. "We have time, and we also want to know how things stand for the projects of Lotto, Omega Pharma and Quick Step. Philippe wants financial guarantees over three seasons."
At the beginning of this season, Patrick Lefevere's Quick Step team secured its financial backing until 2013 through the involvement of Czech billionnaire and cycling fan Zdenek Bakala. As to Omega Pharma, the commitment to the sport of the Belgian pharmaceutical company is unbroken despite its recently announced split from co-sponsor Lotto, who still has to find further backing for next season.
Other than the Belgian teams, who want to secure Gilbert for obvious national reasons and who are also the rider's favourites, several international squads are highly interested in the Classics specialist, including Team Sky and Rabobank.
"There are not many teams around at the moment who can guarantee that they will continue for the next three years, who have the budget to do so and where he would feel at ease on a sporting level," added Wathelet, who also said that Gilbert did not want "any options whatsoever" in his new contract. "Options are not legal for the International Cycling Union."