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Alessandro Petacchi (Lampre - Merida)
Team in discussion with Uran
The Omega Pharma-Quickstep team just racked up its fourth stage win in the 2013 Tour de France, and is already looking to reinforce the squad. Team manager Patrick Lefevere confirmed that retired sprinter Alessandro Petacchi will join the team from August 1, 2013 for the subsequent 14 months.
Lefevere also said he has been in discussion with Colombian climber Rigobert Uran, now with Sky, but that nothing has been inked as of yet.
"I will fly to Italy in early August for the signatures," Lefevere said according to Sporza.be. "You may talk to riders, but before August 2 you cannot complete transfers, per the UCI."
Lefevere had hoped to bring in Petacchi sooner, in order to boost the lead-out train for Mark Cavendish, but the UCI nixed the plan as the transfer occurred outside the window, despite the fact that Petacchi had ended his contract with Lampre-Merida in April. The Italian is tired of the pressures of being designated sprinter, and wants to step back into a lead-out role.
Uran would be a prime Grand Tour contender for the team. The silver medalist at the Olympics in London emerged as the Sky team's Giro d'Italia contender after the departure of Bradley Wiggins, and took second overall to Vincenzo Nibali.
Omega Pharma CEO Marc Coucke also stated today that his company is putting "4 to 5 million in the team" every year, but that it is worth it for the "continuous visibility".
"Moreover, our total marketing budget amounts to 120 million, so 4 to 5 million is small. But if only everything would yield as much as the cycling sponsorship ... "