According to Het Laatste Nieuws, Lefevere is planning a “reboot” of the current Soudal Quick-Step team to accommodate those not included in the Jumbo-Visma merger, referring to them as the “victims” of the merger.
Multiple sources have suggested that not all Soudal Quick-Step riders will be part of the merger, with roughly twenty riders facing exclusion. Consequently, Patrick Lefevere is contemplating the formation of a “residual team” under the existing WorldTour license. Both the “merger team” and Lefevere’s team are seeking separate UCI licenses for 2024.
Belgian reports indicate that sponsors who do not join the merger will support Lefevere’s team, honoring existing contracts that include riders such as Kasper Asgreen, Ilan Van Wilder and Julian Alaphilippe. While not officially confirmed, there are hints that they should refrain from considering other team offers at this time.
Potential sponsors like Quick-Step, Latexco, and Renson may keep the team operational for another year. However, it raises questions about Lefevere’s role in this new team, as his previous statement suggested he would transition to a role on the Supervisory Board, with Richard Plugge taking over as CEO.
“If Plugge becomes CEO, it will be up to him to address the pressing issues. I no longer want to be directly responsible,” Lefevere remarked. “I prefer limiting myself to a role on the Supervisory Board. I’m turning 69 in January, and age is a factor. I can confidently say that I’ve had my fill of it.”
The news of a potential new team follows a strict warning from the UCI to both squads. On Tuesday, the international cycling body delivered a strong message to Jumbo-Visma and Soudal Quick-Step, underscoring the imperative of strictly adhering to UCI regulations concerning the honouring of existing contracts, not only for riders but also for team staff.