The ride transfer market officially opens at the beginning of August, with riders and teams able to register new deals with the UCI. While a number of high profile deals have already been agreed before or during the Tour de France, Patrick Lefevere has told Cyclingnews that he will hold off making any new signings.
At the time of the interview Lefevere was standing outside the Omega Pharma-QuickStep team bus at the Tour de France. Without having every name at the top of his head he walked towards the side of the bus, where the team list their riders and nationalities.
“Bakelants, Steegmans, Fenn, Pauwels, Petacchi, and Verona,” he said as he listed off the riders still without deals for 2015.
New deals have been confirmed for Serry, Maes, Vermote and Kiesse but Lefevere has to juggle his current crop of riders and his shopping list of riders with the UCI’s plans to reduce WorldTour teams to 22
riders by the start of 2017.
“The problem is that nobody wants to leave but unfortunately I can’t renew every contract because with the new project of the UCI that means we can have 22 riders by 2017,” Lefevere told Cyclingnews at the Tour de France.
“We don’t have to drop everyone but next year I’ll go to 25 or 27 and at the moment we have 30. Next year I’ll go down to around 25. I don’t know who will leave yet as I’m still negotiating with riders.”
Jan Bakelants, who joined the team from RadioShack last year on a one-season deal is Lefevere’s most high profile rider still at the negotiating table. The Belgian rider has been on the attack several times in the Tour this year but failed to sparkle like he did in the 2013 edition of the race.
“Riders like Bakelants we have negotiations with but I’ve wanted to wait until after the Tour. We saw that when Belkin announced that they were stopping the entire market froze. It showed that if you move too
quickly then you can be stuck later and that’s not my goal. I want some flexibility and liberty.”
While the majority of his signings have been completed Lefevere is still on the look out for one or two fresh faces, a fact that leaves the riders on the team without deals for 2015 under immense pressure
should Lefevere drop his squad quota to around 27.
“There are some riders available but I’ll wait until after Paris. I’ll look for one or two young climbers but certainly young ones,” he concluded.