Earlier today, Belgian and Dutch media reported that, after days of fraught negotiations, Soudal-QuickStep will continue in its current format until the end of 2025, with Patrick Lefevere and Czech billionaire Zdenek Bakala continuing as owners.
Jumbo-Visma, meanwhile, will continue in their quest for a sponsorship deal to replace the Dutch supermarket chain, who are set to pull out of the team at the end of 2024.
The reported fusion had caused deep uncertainty amongst Soudal-QuickStep’s riders and staff, with a significant percentage facing the prospect of looking for a new employer late in the year if the season had gone ahead.
Earlier this week some team members pointed to the deep loss the end of a historic team like Soudal-QuickStep would represent in the sport. Others highlighted the tension they were experiencing as a result of the merger rumours and the lack of clear information.
Bramati was approached for comment after the directeurs sportifs race meeting ahead of Il Lombardia on Friday afternoon by Italian website Bici.Pro. The outspoken Italian, who said earlier this week he had spent a great deal of time trying to maintain the squad’s morale during the Italian Classics, visibly smiled when it was put to him that the merger was off the table.
“The news was going round during the director’s meeting,” Bramati replied. “I haven’t read anything about it yet.
“But for sure if it’s true, I think it’s good news for everybody and for all of cycling.”
Following this palpable lowering of the tension levels, Bramati said that during the week of Italian racing, the team had remained strong under difficult conditions. He praised the “riders and staff for showing that even with all this stuff going on, we’ve got on doing all our things.”
Meanwhile, initial reactions were beginning to trickle out of the Jumbo-Visma camp, with sports director Frans Maassen reportedly telling Het Nieuwsblad, “I think it is clear and it is best for everyone.”
As for the upcoming battle at Il Lombardia between Soudal-QuickStep’s Remco Evenepoel, defending champion Tadej Pogačar (UAE Team Emirates) and…