Julian Alaphilippe, a former World Champion, has expressed his profound sadness over the looming possibility that his long-standing team, Soudal-QuickStep, may soon undergo a significant transformation or cease to exist in its current form. Alaphilippe, who has been a part of the Soudal-QuickStep family throughout his entire cycling career, with a contract extending until the end of 2024, conveyed his eagerness for clarity regarding the team's future.
The uncertainty surrounding the team's fate has left riders like Alaphilippe, as well as the broader cycling community, in a state of anticipation, eagerly awaiting more information. Alaphilippe's sentiments stem from his realization that, if the proposed merger with Jumbo-Visma materializes, one of the sport's most enduring and prominent teams will undergo a profound transformation.
Speaking at the outset of the Coppa Bernocchi on Monday, Alaphilippe acknowledged the complexity of the situation, saying, "We don't know much; it's a bit complicated for everybody. We try to remain focused on the racing, and we hope the situation will resolve itself soon." He added, "I find it all sad, above all because this is a team that has been at the heart of cycling for many years, with its own history. But we're not going to cry. We're here to do the race and we see what happens."
Cycling's Future Uncertainty Grows
Alaphilippe's frustration is shared by many within the cycling community. The news of the potential merger, leaked just over a week ago, has been accompanied by a deluge of rumors but a scarcity of concrete information. While Soudal's team boss, Patrick Lefevere, anticipates more news regarding the merger, other riders, including former French National Champion Florian Sénéchal and Jumbo-Visma's Christophe Laporte, find themselves in the dark about the future of both teams.
Amidst the uncertainty, questions have resurfaced regarding the potential departure of Remco Evenepoel from Soudal-QuickStep. Speculation arose, with an unnamed agent suggesting that in the event of a merger, all of Soudal-QuickStep's riders would be without contracts, potentially allowing Evenepoel to swiftly join Ineos Grenadier. However, it's essential to note that, at this stage, speculation remains the only source of information in a situation rife with uncertainty.
As the cycling world anxiously awaits more substantial details, Alaphilippe's heartfelt concern reflects the profound impact that the potential transformation of Soudal-QuickStep could have on the sport's rich history and tradition. Riders, fans, and stakeholders alike remain hopeful for a resolution to the uncertainty that has cast a shadow over this esteemed team's future.