Brussels: The Belgian cycling teams Quick Step and Omega Pharma-Lotto announced on Monday that they will be merging into a Belgian `superteam` next season.
The new team, which will be launched on January 1, 2012, will be known as Team Omega Pharma-Quick Step. It will be managed by Patrick Lefevere, the current director of Quick Step.
The two sponsors will take turns in financing the team. Omega Pharma will sponsor the team for the first two seasons with an option of a third with Quick Step taking over for the next three years.
"With this agreement we are continuing to invest in a Belgian team, backed up by some international talent," said Marc Couke, the founder and CEO of pharmaceutical company Omega Pharma.
"Our objective remains to continue as one of the top teams in the world."
The announcement did not clarify the line-up of the new team, notably whether Quick Step leaders Tom Boonen, Sylvain Chavanel as well as Omega Pharma ace Philippe Gilbert, who earlier this year became only the second rider to win all three of the Ardennes classics, will stay with the new team.
However, Gilbert, who added the San Sebastian classic on Sunday, was not happy atall to have learned the news from the press.
"I am upset to have learnt from the web that Omega Pharma is to be merged with Quick Step," he told the website of the newspaper Le Soir.
"I would have preferred out of respect for my results and the rewards I bring my sponsors to have been informed beforehand.
"I would like to repeat that I am the only one to decide what will be my next step. Up till now I have received interesting offers from Lotto, BMC, Quick Step and Astana.
"I regret that I am not able as promised to inform my supporters and the press as to my decision but suffice to say that the last official contact I had with BCC (the official name of Omega Pharma) was through our respective lawyers."