Patrick Lefevere has confirmed that Levi Leipheimer has agreed to join Omega Pharma-Quickstep for 2012, with an official press release confirming that the 37-year-old American will be part of the team for both the 2012 and 2013 seasons.
Leipheimer's main victory of the season came in June at the Tour de Suisse, where a storming final day time trial earned him the overall win over Damiano Cunego (Lampre-ISD). The 37-year-old also won the Tour of Utah, the USA Pro Cycling Challenge, and finished second at the Tour of California. Because of the intended merger between the Leopard Trek and RadioShack teams, Leipeimer was one of several riders looking for a new team for 2012.
“It’s complete. I have 30 riders for next year. It’s a done deal with Levi as well. The contract isn’t back yet but we’ve agreed and he’s in the process of sending it back. He’s in California so is mailing it back,” Lefevere told Cyclingnews.
“When I talked to him he said he only turned pro late so he’s quite fresh. If you look at his results he was second in California, respecting the team order. He won Utah, Colorado and Switzerland and he had a fantastic year. He was very unlucky in this year’s Tour de France. He crashed four times and from then it was all over for him."
Leipheimer will add experience to Lefevere’s stage racing stock and despite his age, will likely line up at the Tour de France as the team’s overall threat. His signing may also swing the Belgian team an invite to the Tour of California.
“Levi's arrival will contribute to making our team one of the most competitive for the stage races," Lefevere said in the press release.
“Levi is a complete athlete who can hold his own on any type of terrain. Together with Martin, Grabsch, Rabon, Peter Velits and Chavanel they'll make up a solid block of athletes capable of great performances against the clock, but also can hang on with the best on a hilly terrain. Levi will also be an important contribution to the visibility of our sponsors and team in the USA. He's a highly experienced rider who still has a lot of ambition to race and win."
Lefevere has been one of the most active managers this year as he rebuilt his team. However he admitted that he spent too much time and attention pursuing Philippe Gilbert, who eventually signed for BMC.
“I had a very tough August but it was necessary. I was lucky to have an investor who wanted to create a top three team in the next few years and this was the first step,” he said. “The problem was that I concentrated too long on Gilbert and his agent was just telling us tales the whole time.”
One rider linked to Omega Pharma-Quickstep is Lars Bak, but Lefevere ruled the Dane out, claiming that he had signed for Lotto.