New Belgian team takes shape

The world of Belgian team sponsorship takes a surprising turn as Chocolade Jacques get into bed with

The world of Belgian team sponsorship takes a surprising turn as Chocolade Jacques get into bed with
PICTURE BY TIM DE WAELE Rumours of a new Belgian team taking to the road next season have been confirmed with the announcement of a fusion of the Chocolade Jacques company with what was this season the Vlaanderen-T Interim team. The new outfit will be managed by Lotto team manager Christophe Sercu, with Walter Planckaert joining Roger Swerts and Jean-Pierre Heynderickx as the directeurs sportifs. The news was greeted with a fair degree of surprise in Belgium, not least because Flemish cycling's 'Mr Fixit', Noel Demeulenaere, had been working on bringing together Chocolade Jacques with the French RAGT Semences team with the aim of getting more Belgian riders in the Tour de France. According to a report in La Dernire Heure, Demeulenaere had been working as recently as last Tuesday on a variety of options involving the 1.5 million euros Chocolade Jacques' parent company was offering. Besides joining with RAGT, another option reportedly under discussion was becoming a sub-sponsor with Lampre. But with Demeulenaere apparently still working the angles, Chocolade Jacques' Swiss parent company called a press conference in Brussels on Wednesday afternoon to announce their own deal with T Interim, which will run for the next two seasons. The team will comprise 21 Flemish riders, with 16 places allocated for members of this season's Vlaanderen-T Interim roster. Among the others being linked with the team are Lotto's Nico Eeckhout, Hans de Clercq and Kevin Van Impe. The bikes will be provided by Eddy Merckx.
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