Gert Steegmans is being supported financially by Dutch cycling component manufacturer BBB while he looks for a new team, following a possible contract annulment with Team Katusha on Wednesday. The Belgian has also claimed that the Russian ProTour team put too much pressure on him to return to racing after a back injury in May.
“We are glad to help Gert in his distress,” according to Davy Daniëls of BBB. It plans to sponsor him as an independent in upcoming criterium races. The company has previously provided Steegmans with equipment sponsorship.
Katusha denies the Steegmans' contract has been annulled. Press spokesman Andrea Agostini told Cyclingnews that team manager Andrei Tchmil is waiting to talk with his cyclist.
Steegmans refused to sign the team's anti-doping charter, and has not ridden competitively since the Dauphiné Libéré in June. “I consider this a completely lost year,” he told Het Nieuwsblad.
Although he had two wins earlier in the season, he says that he did not bring in the expected results because of “one big problem: my back. Only when that problem was out of the way, did things get better.” But, he said, Tchmil pushed him too hard in May. “You cannot expect that if the doctor says the problem is solved that I am immediately in form the next day,” Steegmans said.
Although he was placed on inactive status by Katusha in June, he has continued to ride. “I am still cycling but training is something else. There is always the uncertainty, “ he said. Steegmans added that despite some concern he remains highly motivated.
Steegmans is rumoured to be close to signing with the French team Bbox Bouygues Telecom, but he would not confirm that. “I won't say much about my future. We'll see. I hope that my concerns will soon be over.”