According to Het Laatste Nieuws, Davitamon-Lotto is courting Nick Nuyens to fill Van Petegem's space in the team for next year. Nuyens didn't deny nor confirm the newspapers' assumption but admitted that he is in demand.
"There are a few teams which contacted me," said Nuyens. "But I'm playing the game in a correct way. I want to have a quiet word with Lefévère this week. After that we'll see. Fact is: I want clarity as soon as possible."
The two Belgian ProTour teams have 26 contracts to negotiate, of which 14 with Belgian riders. The best known cyclists are Peter Van Petegem and Nick Nuyens. Belgian National Champion Serge Baguet changed from Davitamon-Lotto to Quick.Step at the end of last season, after his national title wasn't something Omega Pharma boss - Davitamon's main sponsor - Marc Coucke wanted to reward the popular Baguet for. That is something Davitamon's Nico Mattan has kept in the back of his mind, as he is tying his future to Van Petegem's choice.
"If he goes, so will I," said Mattan. "I think that after Vansevenant, I'll be the next one to follow Peter. Whatever the destination. If I see that Baguet, with his National title couldn't get a better contract with Davitamon, than I don't have many illusions for myself. I'm 34, with my market value I'm not going to earn an extra penny. Quick.Step? Yes please. I would like to finish my career in Patrick's team. It will be a sentimental decision in any way. Just like for Peter, the atmosphere within the team is most important. Not the money."
But in the meantime, Van Petegem himself doesn't let on what his actual plans for next year might be. He has told the Belgian press over the last few weeks that he needs to get more respect from his current employers if they want to keep him - but that he isn't going to play deaf when Davitamon makes the right offer. Quick.Step manager Lefévère has pointed out that he hasn't dismissed the thought of letting the Belgian Classics rider join his ranks. To be continued...
Courtesy of Sabine Sunderland