According to reports in the Belgian press, Philippe Gilbert will leave Française des Jeux at the end of this season and is on his way to Silence-Lotto. The winner of this year's Omloop Het Volk has spent his entire career with the French squad since turning professional in 2003, but reportedly informed team manager Marc Madiot of his decision on Wednesday afternoon.
"Philippe has decided to move to one of the teams from his country," Française des Jeux directeur sportif Thierry Bricaud told SportWereld. "It's very unfortunate for us, but rarely in cycling does a rider remain with one team for his entire career."
Silence-Lotto is expected to make the news official at a press conference on Thursday, with the likely announcement of a three-year contract with Gilbert. However, team spokesman Filip Demyttenaere remained cautious about the transfer. "Last year we thought we had Stijn Devolder and a year before that Gert Steegmans," he told Sporza. "Until they were offered more money by Quick Step."
As part of the move, Gilbert's old mentor Dirk De Wolf will join the Silence-Lotto staff as a directeur sportif and Tom Stubbe as a rider.