The worst kept secret in professional cycling was officially confirmed last week when Omega Pharma-Quickstep boss Patrick Lefevere announced the signing of Rigoberto Uran. In addition to Uran, who joins from Sky, Lefevere also confirmed the signing of Mark Renshaw from Belkin and Alessandro Petacchi. Uran is expected to be the squad leader and the main contender for Grand Tour success over the next two years of his contract.
Add those three to Tom Boonen, Sylvain Chavanel, Tony Martin and Mark Cavendish and you have one of the strongest and most versatile squads in pro cycling. But apparently Lefevere says he may add even more. ‘It depends on the moves in the market. Some people I have to speak to still as there are four or five riders in my team who are at the end of their contracts. There’s Euskaltel stopping and so there are a few riders who’ve done well in the mountains before and I’m interested in. But I’m not in a hurry.’ Sammy Sanchez maybe?
OPQ have historically been a good team but never had a contender for the top prizes. So why the sudden change of approach? Lefevre’s explanation is that he’s been put off signing a grand tour contender until now due to cycling’s doping problems.
Well, now he’s got one in Uran, who finished second in the Giro d’Italia this year, despite losing time while supporting a fading Wiggins. As the ever quotable Lefevere said: ‘What’s for sure is that I’m not standing there with a gun in his face telling him he has to get on the podium in the Giro, Tour or Vuelta. If he does it though, of course I’ll be happy.’