Belgian teams scrambling for 2012 sponsors and riders

Mark Cavendish (HTC-Highroad) holding onto the green jersey.

Mark Cavendish (HTC-Highroad) holding onto the green jersey. (Image credit: Bettini Photo)

Two top Belgian teams are still scrambling to find sponsors and new riders for the coming season.  Omega Pharma is to hold talks next week with Vacansoleil-DCM about merging, while Quick Step is talking to top sprinter Mark Cavendish.

Cavendish, who has won four Tour de France stages, currently rides for HTC-Highroad, which is losing HTC as a sponsor at the end of this year.  Team owner Bob Stapleton had said he would announce the team's future next month, but according to Sportwereld, the sprinter wants to make his decision this coming week.

His name has been most often associated with Sky, but this week Cavendish has been talking with other teams, including Patrick Lefevere of Quick Step, Sportwereld said.

Lefevere is also holding talks with Alejandro Valverde, who  is currently serving a two-year doping suspension.  However, due to the suspension, the Spaniard would not bring the necessary WorldTour points to a new team, which the Belgian website said makes him “less interesting” to Quick Step, which currently ranks 17 out of 18 on points.

Omega Pharma and Lotto are splitting at the end of this season, with both saying they want to continue sponsorship separately in the future. Omega Pharma's Marc Coucke is looking for another team to merge with for 2012.  After negotiations with Quick Step failed, he has now turned to Vacansoleil, Sportwereld said.

The Dutch team has also announced that it is looking for additional sponsors for the coming season.

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