The Quick Step team manager Patrick Lefevere is seeking to boost his team with another sprinter to add to the firepower already provided by star Tom Boonen, he revealed at the Amgen Tour of California. Lefevere was on hand at the time trial in Los Angeles on Saturday enjoying the sunny weather in spite of his team's lack of luck in the race.
Boonen crashed on the first stage, hampering the team's chances of winning a bunch sprint, and then finally abandoned early on stage six. The loss of Boonen in this race and the fact that he has been responsible for four of only seven team victories this season only served to drive home the point that the squad needs another go-to man for the bunch kicks.
"Tom Boonen doesn't want to sprint in every race, so [I am looking for] an Andre Greipel or somebody like that," Lefevere told Cyclingnews.
In addition to looking to improve the team's performance in flat races, Lefevere is also hoping to bolster the squad's Grand Tour contingent. While Lefevere was open about the fact that he was courting Tour de France champion Alberto Contador last year, he was uncertain about the situation of the Spaniard for the 2011 season.
"Nobody knows exactly what the situation is with Contador. I will see. I think I will see him in the Dauphiné Libéré, and then there is time enough to tell. With someone who wants to win the Tour de France you actually don't speak to them before the Tour de France, but after," Lefevere said.
"It will depend on the market and the budget. I cannot buy if I don't have [money]," he said. "It should be interesting. Otherwise I have a few young riders who are doing really very well in mountains like Dries Devenyns and Kevin Seeldraeyers and I think they have made a nice progression this year. I will see how far they come in the mountains in the Tour de France."
The Belgian indicated the market place is in a unique situation right now because several big teams have not yet signed new title sponsors, so there may be a large number of riders available before the year is out. He's already been talking to many of the riders' managers.
"Maybe 80-90 percent in the professional peloton have personal managers nowadays. Between Liège - Bastogne - Liège and now I think I've seen them all. The situation today is interesting - everyone speaks of new sponsors but haven't seen anyone sign one - Saxo doesn't have a contract, Caisse d'Epargne and Bouygues Telecom don't have contracts," he said.
"There are also new teams like Sky, Radioshack, Astana who have maybe signed 25 riders for two years, so there may be many places that aren't available."
Quick Step also has 18 riders who are at the end of their agreements, so the team is open to replacing a large portion of the team and Lefevere has had no qualms about warning some of his riders that they need to perform.
"I will speak of course with the people who I want to keep, but for the others? It's like in school - there are three semesters to the season: the period of the classics, the period with the Tour de France and the end of the season. So the guys who are bad in the first part have a second chance. If they're doing well we can talk, if they're not doing well..."
Lefevere was openly critical of Stijn Devolder's lack of results after the Classics this year, and even the two-time Tour of Flanders champion isn't guaranteed a contract extension. "For the moment everybody is on the market," Lefevere said of Devolder.
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