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RadioShack Leopard general manager Luca Guercilena
Bicycle company to take ownership of RadioShack team
Trek Bicycle announced today that it has reached an agreement with the current owner of the RadioShack team, Leopard SA, to take over its WorldTour license and ownership of the squad in 2014.
The company stated that it "plans to conserve a large part of the existing roster" and to keep general manager Luca Guercilena. The current structure will remain in place through the end of the season.
"Trek is currently engaged in negotiations with several marquee athletes that will be announced shortly," the press release stated, adding that the group is currently seeking sponsors.
"We're thrilled to be able to reach this agreement with Leopard," Trek VP Joe Vadeboncoeur said. "The team has established a great foundation of staff and athletes."
The team's future was uncertain in March, when RadioShack announced it would not renew its partnership with the team. Since then, rumours had circulated concerning financial issues in the team, and former manager Johan Bruyneel took current team owner Flavio Becca to court to get payment on 900,000 Euros owed on a 1.5 million Euro loan he gave Becca to keep the team afloat last year.
Team members complained earlier this month that their wages had not been paid on time.
It was previously reported that Becca was looking to sell the WorldTour license, but as late as this morning, he denied to Cyclingnews that the license had been sold.
The new team will reportedly be built around Fabian Cancellara and Andy Schleck, with reinforcements for the Classics squad to back the Ronde van Vlaanderen and Paris-Roubaix champion, but Trek was vague about its goals, only stating that its "riders' nationalities represent our major markets and can become an army of ambassadors at events across the world".
Becca stated in the press release that he is "proud to hand over this project to the people at Trek Bicycle, who have been a very dependable and loyal partner over the past three years".
"When we started in the summer of 2010 we had a blank canvas in our hands, a puzzle. Now, three seasons later, we have a team that has won some of the biggest races of cycling with Fabian Cancellara and put two Schleck brothers from Luxembourg together on the podium of the Tour de France.
"I am also especially pleased to have launched the professional career of a young talented rider like Bob Jungels and that the team has become a major player in professional cycling. I believe cycling has entered a new era, in which a bike manufacturer like Trek Bicycle takes on full ownership of a team. I have taken a lot of pleasure in running this project and I wish the team and all its members a bright future."