“He’s a good climber who loves the Flemish and Ardennes races,” Europcar manager Jean-René Bernaudeau said. “He’s only 24 years old and we’re counting on him a lot.”
Malacarne’s strong start to the current campaign culminated with the mountains classification at Tirreno-Adriatico, and he went on to complete both the Giro d’Italia and the Vuelta a España. His sole victory in the professional ranks came on stage 5 of last season’s Volta a Catalunya, but a fractured elbow shortly afterwards interrupted his run of form.
“He fractured his right elbow last year, but that’s all in the past,” Bernaudeau said. “Malacarne is a real rider for the future.”
Changes afoot at Quick Step
Malacarne is not the only rider set to leave Quick Step at the end of the season, with Addy Engels, Fréderique Robert and Jan Tratnik all reported to be surplus to requirements at the revamped Omega Pharma-Lotto team in 2012.
Engels, who has been at Quick Step for the past seven years, is out of contract at the end of this season, and rtvdrenthe.nl reports that the Dutchman will not be offered an extension.
Neo-professionals Robert and Tratnik both have contracts for 2012, but Robert toldwielerspotter.be that they will not be at Omega Pharma-Quick Step next year.
“Patrick Lefevere contacted me himself and told that there is no place on the team for me in 2012,” Robert said. He explained that Lefevere is looking to find him a berth on another team, with Lotto and Verandas Willems among the possibilities. “It could be another team, but whatever it is, the future is open.”
News of Engels, Robert, Malacarne and Tratnik’s departures follows speculation linking the revamped Omega Pharma-Quick Step squad with a bid to sign Mark Cavendish for the 2012 season.
Six of Cavendish's teammates from the soon-to-be defunct HTC-Highroad team have already confirmed that they will ride for Omega Pharma-Quick Step next year, including Tony Martin, Matt Brammeier and Martin and Peter Velits, while Brian Holm joins as directeur sportif.