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Jelle Vanendert (Omega Pharma-Lotto) celebrates his first professional win
More big names could join them
The new team to be sponsored by the Belgian national lottery is starting to take shape. Jurgen Van den Broeck will be with the team, as will Tour de France stage winner Jelle Vanendert, who will be joined by his younger brother Dennis. And more big names from the current Omega Pharma-Lotto team may be on the list as well.
"Many may make the move, especially since the group gets along so well together," Marc Frederix, marketing director of the National Lottery, told sportwereld.be. Sprinter and Tour stage winner Andre Greipel, for example “certainly fits into the collective."
However, it seems unlikely that this year's top rider, Philippe Gilbert, will come over to the new team. Frederix regrets that, “Like the rest of Belgium right? Of course, I prefer Belgian talent riding in a Belgian team. And preferably in ours. But when Philippe gets an offer from an absolute top team, then we should respect that. He has done a great job for us. In addition, financially it is not always possible for us to compete with international top teams. "
The Nationale Loterij is concentrating on Belgian talent, and that is the reason for its breakup with Omega Pharma. “Our visions were different.”
One of the young Belgian talents getting a chance with the team will be Dennis Vanendert, the 23-year-old brother of Jelle Vanendert, who on Saturday won the Pyrenean stage atop the Plateau de Beille. "Last month I signed a professional contract with Lotto, thanks to Jelle putting in a good word for me. A dream is fulfilled," said the younger brother.
Van den Broeck, one of the victims of the mass crash on stage nine, was planned as the leader for the new team, but after Jelle Vanendert's climbing performance, the team may have co-captains. "Why not?" asked team manager Marc Sergeant. "The Schleck brothers manage that as well."
Omega Pharma and Lotto have been team co-sponsors since 2005. They announced earlier this year that their co-operation would stop at the end of this season. Both have said that they want to continue sponsoring cycling teams.