The future of cyclo-cross world champion Zdenek Stybar is still unclear after Patrick Lefevere told Cyclingnews that the Czech’s current team has first refusal on his contract.
Telenet-Fidea team manager Hans Van Kasteren recently told the Belgian media that Lefevere had offered Stybar a reputed 500,000 euro contract. However Lefevere told Cyclingnews that the figure was private and that the ball was firmly in Van Kasteren’s court.
“I made a proposal, but his team has first refusal on it so nothing has been completed,” Lefevere told Cyclingnews.
“I never speak about numbers. If others out there want to talk about numbers that’s up to them, but it’s not my style.”
Stybar’s existing contract runs out at the end of this year, meaning that the Czech has but a matter of weeks to finalise his future, while Lefevere’s interest is far more long term. According to the wily team boss, Stybar could ride road, cross and even mountain bike at the London 2012 Olympics.
“Cyclo-cross is huge in Belgium and a lot of sponsors that I have are Flemish. There’s a lot of coverage in the press and on television. He also wants to do the Olympic mountain bike race, and he wanted to try racing on the road, too. We can give him that chance and give him a shot in shorter stage races,” Lefevere said.
Stybar’s possible move to Quick Step comes after Lefevere secured a major Czech investor. Lefevere ensured the team’s future for at least another two years, as billionaires Zdenĕk Bakala and Bessel Kok purchased a majority share in the team's management company. The team initially looked into both Peter Sagan and Roman Kruezinger as possible recruits before targeting Stybar.
Lefevere is adamant that the financial investment secured has been a double edged sword. Last week RadioShack attempted to broker a deal for their man Gert Steegmans, while Lefevere believes that Van Kasteren is guilty of similar brinksmanship.
“I had to make him an offer, but Hans has the chance to match that offer, in which case Stybar has to stay where he is. Some people like to play games when it comes to money. Everyone has read that I have a new investor and they now think that I’ve lots to spend but I won’t change my behaviour simply because I have new investor.”
“Two years ago, they said I paid Tom Boonen two million euros. It’s easy to pluck numbers out of the air. Like they said Alberto Contador was paid five million by Bjarne Riis. With Stybar we just have to wait and be patient.”