Belgian sprinter Gert Steegmans, a Tour de France stage winner, will join the Russian Tinkoff team on a two-year deal, it was revealed at the race in St Brieuc on Sunday.
Steegmans is currently a teammate of former world champion Tom Boonen, who was told by organisers he would not be welcome at the Tour following his positive test for cocaine earlier this season.
The news of Steegmans’ departure will be a further blow to Quick Step, whose aims at the Tour this year fall mostly on the big Belgian’s shoulders.
According to Quick Step team manager Patrick Lefevere, Belgium’s top team could not match the offer being made by Tinkoff, which is owned by Russian businessman Oleg Tinkov.
Steegmans won the Tour’s second stage in Ghent, in 2007.
© AFP 2008