Jan Bakelants has revealed that he had reached a verbal agreement to join Fernando Alonso’s proposed new team in 2014, only to learn on Monday that the Formula 1 driver’s negotiations to take control of the Euskaltel-Euskadi team have collapsed.
Bakelants’ contract with RadioShack-Leopard expires at the end of this season, but a fine Tour de France, in which he claimed victory on stage 2 and enjoyed a spell in the yellow jersey, appeared to put him in a strong position to find an improved deal for 2014.
“The sky has fallen on my head,” Bakelants wrote in a column carried by both the Gazet van Antwerpen and Het Belang van Limburg on Tuesday. “As of Monday, my future as a professional cyclist is uncertain. I had an agreement with Fernando Alonso’s team, formerly Euskaltel.
“I spoke with Kiko Garcia, the manager, and he really wanted me. The contracts were ready and should even have been signed here in Tuscany [at the world championships].”
The 27-year-old Bakelants had expected to announce his destination for 2014 before Sunday’s world championships road race. He confirmed his Worlds condition with victory in the GP de Wallonie last week, where he rode in the colours of the Belgian national team as RadioShack-Leopard has withdrawn from non-WorldTour races in the closing weeks of Flavio Becca’s backing of the team.
Trek will take up sponsorship of the RadioShack team next season. Manager Luca Guercilena confirmed that talks with Bakelants had stalled earlier in the summer following his Tour success.
“We made him a proposition before and after his victory at Ajaccio during the Tour,” Guercilena told Het Laatste Nieuws. “But the negotiations were difficult and we didn’t reach an agreement. It’s a pity. Jan is a good guy and I would love to have him in our team. Both parties will have to make efforts.”
Omega Pharma-QuickStep has also been linked with signing Bakelants in recent days. Last week, manager Patrick Lefevere told Sporza that either Bakelants or Thomas De Gendt (Vacansoleil-DCM) would be his final signing for 2014.