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Omega Pharma confirms merger plans for 2012

By:
Stephen Farrand
Published:
July 29, 2011, 17:25 BST,
Updated:
July 29, 2011, 18:34 BST
Edition:
First Edition Cycling News, Saturday, July 30, 2011
The Omega Pharma-Lotto team works to set up Gilbert

The Omega Pharma-Lotto team works to set up Gilbert

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Belgian sponsor expected to join forces with Vacansoleil

Management at Omega Pharma has confirmed that the Belgian pharmaceutical company will stay in cycling in 2012 after agreeing to join forces with another team with the objective of securing a WorldTour licence.

Omega Pharma and Lotto, the Belgian national lottery, have already confirmed they will end their partnership after the current season. Omega Pharma will retain control of the team’s management company Belgian Cycling Company and hopes to have joint title sponsor rights with the new partner.

“Omega Pharma confirms that it will stay in the world of professional cycling,” Marc Coucke, the head of the Omega Pharma company, and Geert Coeman of Belgian Cycling Company said in a joint statement.

“After selecting potential partners, six options were examined. After a detailed evaluation, Omega Pharma and BCC have chosen a preferred option and easily reached an agreement with another existing team to join forces to compete on an international and Belgian level in the WorldTour. Further details about the new partner and the name of the team will be announced soon via a joint statement.”

A report in last week’s L’Equipe newspaper suggested that Omega Pharma was ready to join forces with the Vacansoleil team. Cyclingnews sources have confirmed the same reports of the Belgian-Netherlands merger.

It is still unclear which of the current Omega Pharma-Lotto riders will be part of the new team in 2012. Both Tour de France stage winner Jelle Vanendert and grand tour contender Jurgen van den Broeck are reported to be joining the rival team backed by Lotto in 2012, while Philippe Gilbert is widely rumoured to be joining BMC.

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