PIC BY TDWSPORT.COM
Quick Step team manager Patrick Lefvre has told the Belgian paper Het Laatste Nieuws that he is not planning to re-sign Spaniards Juan Miguel Mercado and Juan Antonio Pecharroman next season. However, it seems he has nothing against Spanish riders in general, as Lefvre admitted he is extremely interested in signing Juan Antonio Flecha from Fassa Bortolo.
Mercado and Pecharroman were signed at the end of the 2003 season to boost Quick Step's major tour attack, but have conspicuously failed to make an impression. Mercado did win a stage in the final week of last year's Tour de France, but Lefvre told procycling earlier this season that he was expecting the former ibanesto.com rider to compete for overall titles and that the Tour stage win did not excuse the Spaniard's failure to show consistency at the Tour and elsewhere.
Pecharroman has been an even bigger flop. During three weeks of grace with the Paternina team in June 2003 he won both the Bicicleta Vasca and Tour of Catalonia, and interested a large number of leading teams. But he's won nothing for almost two years and has rarely featured for Quick Step.
"Mercado and Pecharroman have not made it to the Giro, and I'm not satisfied with them," said Lefvre, adding: "Neither of them will be here next season. I am at the limit on my budget and I would prefer to sign Juan Antonio Flecha, who I have already enquired about."
The Quick Step boss also expressed his disappointment with Filippo Pozzato, who joined from Fassa last season, but said he had been delighted with his Belgian and Dutch Classics riders. "We have received more publicity than anyone else thanks to Tom Boonen's victories, especially after Paris-Roubaix. I think Tom's dog is the only one I haven't read an interview with," he said, adding that he was always surprised by how well riders such as Kevin Hulsmans, Wilfred Cretskens, Marc Lotz and Bram Tankink had ridden.