Having announced on the Tour de France's second rest day on Monday that alcohol-free beer brand Maes 0.0% were joining the Quick-Step Floors squad as a co-sponsor in 2019, team manager Patrick Lefevere has confirmed that, as yet, the team still has no title sponsor for next year.
While the Quick-Step company is due to stay on as a sponsor, it will not be as the title sponsor, Lefevere told HLN.be on Tuesday.
"Maes coming on board helps make up for the fact that our deal with Quick-Step will change," Lefevere told HLN. "We've signed a deal with Quick-Step that will keep them with the team for the next three years, but in a secondary role. They'll be on the jersey next year, but not as prominently as in the past."
The search, therefore, is still on for a new main sponsor, although Lefevere said that he wasn't averse to using the team's self-styled 'Wolfpack' nickname and logo in lieu of anyone else coming on board.
"The future of the team is guaranteed, partly thanks to the arrival of Maes, but they will not be a main sponsor or be part of the team's name," said Lefevere. "If necessary, we'll ride for a year with our Wolfpack logo on the jersey."
Asked whether there had been any other interest from potential or existing sponsors, Lefevere revealed that Maes was the only company who had ever come to him to express interest in being a team sponsor.
"It's much more difficult than anyone thinks," continued Lefevere, revealing that German supermarket Lidl, who are a smaller sponsor of the team, didn't appear to be interested in increasing their presence on the jersey.
"We have a contract with Lidl until the end of 2019," he said, "with options for 2020 and 2021.
"It's the same with Specialized," Lefevere added, with the American brand currently providing Quick-Step with bikes and helmets. "I've talked to 20 different parties, but all they want to know is how much it costs to sponsor a cycling team.
"But I'll keep hoping that something comes along. Maybe Julian Alaphilippe can open some doors on the French market," Lefevere said of the rider who has already won two stages at this year's Tour, and is currently in the polka-dot jersey as the leader of the mountains competition.
"Alaphilippe has more charisma than any of the other French riders – more than Romain Bardet," he continued, a little unsportingly. "Alaphilippe has a sense of humour, he's good-natured, and he is an example to young people that you can make it to the top if you come from a normal family."
As to whether there would be any significant transfers into or out of the team in the off-season, Lefevere replied: "You know the saying: 'never change a winning team.' I'll be very happy if we can keep the riders we have. All of those victories mean that everything" – and by that he meant everyone – "becomes more expensive."
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