Tom Boonen could be in the colours of Lotto-Soudal next year with the Belgian outfit targeting him for the 2017 season. According to a report in the Belgian newspaper Het Nieuwsblad, Lotto-Soudal’s bike supplier Ridley is keen to have Boonen on-board for next year.
Boonen, who is currently riding for Etixx-QuickStep, will be out of contract at the end of the season. Earlier this week Boonen said that he would be willing to move teams in search of a new contract for 2017, but he would prefer to stay with Etixx-QuickStep where he has been since his second full season as a professional.
Lotto-Soudal is on a much smaller budget than Etixx-QuickStep and finding the funding to pay Boonen could be a major stumbling block. Het Nieuwsblad reports that primary sponsor the Belgian Lottery will not up their investment in the squad. However, it states that Ridley could be willing to step in and provide some extra cash so that they can have the multiple Monument winner riding their bikes next year. Secondary sponsor Soudal may also be persuaded to increase their sponsorship in order to seal the deal.
Ridley is a Belgian company, based near Boonen’s home, and the 35-year-old rode their bikes when riding in as a youth. In addition to offering money to bring Boonen across to the team, the bike manufacturer may also offer Boonen a job following his retirement. The job would include PR responsibilities and advice on developing new products.
Lotto-Soudal is already home to young up and coming Classics rider Teisj Benoot, as well as Andre Greipel, Jurgen Roelandts, Tim Wellens and Tony Gallopin, many of which will remain under contract for next season. Boonen’s arrival would, however, bring in some serious experience and his stature in Belgium would be a huge boost to the sponsors.
Het Nieuwsblad, however, reports that the National Lottery may be adverse to having Boonen in the team believing that Etixx-QuickStep fans may choose not to play the Lottery if they take Boonen away from the team.
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