Lotto manager says there is still work to be done
Lotto-Belisol manager Marc Sergeant believes that the proposed World Series Cycling is “the future” for cycling.
Earlier this month Jonathan Price, Gifted Group, announced the plan to form a series of 10 new 4-day stage races in addition to the grand tours and six major one-day races. The proposal was met generally by negative response from fans, but Sergeant believes that this is the direction cycling is heading in.
“Maybe some organisers are having huge problems due to the economical problems,” Sergeant told Cyclingnews at the launch of Lotto's 2013 team in Hasselt. “Maybe it is the solution, but I think we all have to think in the same direction, because it is not easy to miss out some of the monuments and say we would rather go to Asia because it is important for the money.”
If the WSC was to go ahead then that could spell the end for races like Paris-Nice and Clásica San Sebastián. They would be ‘replaced’ by the 10 races around the world, in an attempt to draw in high sponsorship revenue. Despite believing that this is what the future of cycling may look like, Sergeant also said there is a long way to go before it can be put into action. “You have fans in Europe, Australia and the US, not in the Middle East and not in Asia yet,” he said. “You have to do more work to be sure before you risk all of the historical things over here.”
Currently there are eight teams who have signed up to the WSC. The teams include fellow Belgian outfit Omega Pharma – Quickstep, who are owned by one of the men spearheading the plan, Zdenek Bakala. Sergeant isn’t so sure about his team following suit just yet, “I don’t know, Lotto is pretty Belgian so it has to be very interesting.”
The team has recently finished their first training camp of the winter in preparation for 2013. They had a long wait to find out if they had secured a ProTour licence, something which started to get them worried. “We were all together in a training camp,” he told Cyclingnews. “Then training would finish and the riders would ask us if we knew anything yet. Then you start to get nervous.”
Little has changed in the Lotto-Belisol camp from the team that were revealed at the start of 2012. Gianni Meersman is the only rider to leave, after using a UCI clause to break his contract. He has been replaced by Dirk Bellemakers and former Lotto under-23 rider Tim Wellens makes the jump to the senior squad. The team will start their year with André Greipel at the Tour Down Under.
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