News Round-up: Sponsors queued up for Soudal-Visma merger

Plus a move for Florian Sénéchal, a retirement from a British rider and the racing happening around the world

Clock17:02, Monday 2nd October 2023
Julian Alaphilippe congratulates Jumbo-Visma after the Coppa Bernocchi

© Sprint Cycling Agency

Julian Alaphilippe congratulates Jumbo-Visma after the Coppa Bernocchi

Shimano, Visma and Soudal all confirm their sponsorship intentions, as merger talks rumble on

Another day has passed by and yet a sense of confusion remains the prevailing emotion in regard to the supposed merger between Soudal Quick-Step and Jumbo-Visma. Julian Alaphilippe of Soudal Quick-Step has himself spoken about the frustration surrounding the merger rumours, but for the sponsors involved, the move draws a sense of opportunity.

Read more: Talk of the Visma-Soudal merger is 'a bit tiresome', says Julian Alaphilippe

Over the last couple of days, Visma, Soudal and Shimano have all publicly spoken of their desire to be involved front and centre with a new-look team, with the former two the likely title sponsors of such an amalgamation. As for Shimano, the hope is for their involvement with Jumbo-Visma to begin again, after being replaced by SRAM at the start of 2023.

When approached by Cyclingnews, a Shimano spokesperson admitted that the company would "always be honoured to support any endeavours that they see us fitting their balance for," in reference to Jumbo-Visma.

"It's always great to see riders as the top levels compete on Shimano groupsets."

As former UCI president Brian Cookson recognised when speaking to, the merger is more of a "takeover," with Soudal Quick-Step falling into Jumbo-Visma's ranks. The Dutch team currently rides Cervélo bikes and SRAM group sets, but reports last week hinted at Specialized being involved with the merger negotiations, whilst Shimano's public statement hints at the battle to sponsor what will likely be the sport's most dominant team.

Read more: Specialized set to become Visma-Soudal's bike manufacturer

At the weekend, Soudal Quick-Step team boss Patrick Lefevere commented that the introduction of Amazon as a sponsor for Jumbo-Visma may be a game changer, but when pushed on the matter by Het Laatste Nieuws, Soudal reiterated their desire to continue as a title sponsor in the sport going forward.

Read more: Patrick Lefevere says Amazon arrival raises questions over Jumbo-Visma and Soudal Quick-Step merger

“Name sponsorship is our strength, which ensures 'return on investment,'" Soudal sponsorship and corporate communications manager Marko Heijl was adamant. "Our marketing strategy is focused on this and until further notice there is no reason to deviate from that strategy. We were contractually committed at the time as an enthusiastic name sponsor and it is our ambition to remain so too.”

Visma, meanwhile, have spoken at length to Wielerflits of their pride at their second sponsorship of Jumbo-Visma since 2019, and confirmed their intention to retain a long-term interest going forward.

“As for the future, we entered this sponsorship in 2019 with a long-term perspective. As long as both sides see common value in this cooperation, that will not change," said Anne-Grethe Thomle Karlsen, director of content and sponsorship for the Visma Group.

Florian Sénéchal signs for Arkéa-B&B Hotels on two-year deal

The former French national road race champion, Florian Sénéchal, will be amongst those riders leaving Soudal Quick-Step at the end of 2023, with Arkéa-B&B Hotels his confirmed destination.

The 30-year-old's departure is not related to the likely merger between Quick-Step and Jumbo-Visma, but will see the Classics specialist ply his trade on the Arkéa setup that is welcoming the title sponsorship of B&B Hotels for the foreseeable future.

"The exchange I had with Emmanuel Hubert immediately convinced me that the Arkéa-B&B Hotels team was the one I had to choose," Sénéchal explained in the team's press release. "Emmanuel was able to find the words, immediately gave me confidence, and explained to me very quickly what he would expect from me... His sense of listening was essential."

At 30 years of age, Sénéchal should be riding at the peak of his powers and with victory in the French National Championships last year, this appears to be the case.

Not only a strong one-day rider, Sénéchal will provide another important cog in the lead-out train for his long-time friend and soon-to-be teammate, Arnaud Démare, whose mid-season transfer has already proved fruitful for the team with victory in Sunday's Tour de Vendée.

"We get along well, him and me. We had the same coach, at CC Wasquehal, the late Hervé Boussard," revealed the new recruit. "I've always stayed in touch with Arnaud. I'm coming back to France, at a team that listens to me and wants to continue to grow too. Arnaud will be a super leader, this I know."

The move will bring to an end Sénéchal's six-year spell with Soudal QuickStep, which has seen him all five of his career victories to date. Le Samyn in 2019 got him off the mark, before the Frenchman went on to achieve his maiden Grand Tour stage win at the Vuelta a España in 2021.

Before leaving Soudal Quick-Step, Sénéchal is slated to race Binche-Chimay-Binche on Tuesday, which will be broadcast live and ad-free on GCN+ from 13:25 BST (territory restrictions apply).

Charlie Quarterman announces retirement from professional racing

After one season with Corratec-Selle Italia, 25-year-old Brit Charlie Quarterman has announced his impending retirement from professional road racing, with Coppa Bernocchi, Tre Valli Varesine and Gran Piemonte to be his final races before hanging up the cleats.

Announcing the news on his social media on Sunday, Quarterman cited contract uncertainties and physical risks so as to explain the reasons behind his departure from the sport.

"It becomes harder to maintain the complete lifestyle commitment when the physical risks, contract uncertainties, and tough demands inherent in professional racing take their toll," acknowledged Quarterman. "In the end, it was once again a serious trip to the hospital that made me put things into perspective."

View post on Instagram
 

The past few seasons have been equally challenging and rewarding for Quarterman, whose comeback to the professional scene saw him earn a strong following of supporters.

Left without a contract in 2022 following three seasons on the WorldTour with Trek-Segafredo, the rider from Oxford bravely decided to ply his trade with amateur club Philippe Wagner Cycling. He rode relatively small French races with the club, but impressed at the British national time trial championships to take fifth place. His tenacity was rewarded with a ride on the Italian Corratec-Selle Italia side this season.

His comeback to the professional ranks reached its height at the Giro d'Italia in May, in which he was always trying to animate the race and worked his way into the breakaway on stages 6 and 17. It was a commendable achievement for a rider who was forced to the amateur just twelve months earlier.

Quarterman's retirement will bring an end to his seven-year career on the road, but rather than look back on what might have been, the 25-year-old already sounds eager to develop his career away from the sport.

"I plan on completing my economics degree at University of Grenoble, and pushing on with my career outside of cycling. And of course I will be getting married to Louise [Guillemaille} in the autumn of 2024," wrote Quarterman.

You can watch all three of Quarterman's final races live and ad-free on GCN+ this week (territory restrictions apply).

Michał Kwiatkowski and Giuseppe Saronni among L'Eroica's 8,316 participants in Italy

Winner of Strade Bianche in 2014 and 2017, current pro and former world champion Michał Kwiatkowski (Ineos Grenadiers), took to the start of the L'Eroica sportive at the weekend, sporting a retro bike and accompanying Molteni woollen kit.

The Pole was joined on the start line by various other icons of cycling's past, including Gilberto Simoni, Alessandro Ballan, Giovanni Visconti and Giuseppe 'Beppe' Saronni.

"Here I go back to my origins, and I tasted the taste of bicycles from my beginnings," Saronni told La Gazzetta della Sport. "But the most important thing is to see so many people, men and women, so passionate and ready to get involved: a beautiful party of love for the bicycle."

L'Eroica is a retro-themed sportive taking place in Siena, Italy, since 1997, and certified participants ride the course aboard bikes pre-dating the 1990s, therefore featuring steel frames, toe straps, down tube gear levers and alike. The success of the event actually resulted in the Strade Bianche one-day Classic, which has been a professional race since 2007, whilst the L'Eroica sportive has grown from strength to strength.

This weekend's event saw a record number of participants, with 5,305 Italians and 3,011 foreign riders taking to the start, including 889 women. Giancarlo Brocci, founder of L'Eroica, spoke of his delight at a record-setting edition on the white roads of Tuscany.

"It would take a smile meter to give the most direct idea of the success of the Eroica 2023," he told La Gazzetta. "The joy that pervades Gaiole in Chianti is measured by eye, how much people need to find themselves, to live a cathartic rite.

"A joy that is perceived in every ride, selfie, hug, and contact. It sounds incredible but the miracle always comes back to be fulfilled and even a nicer pinch than the previous time. This was a triumphant edition, an exceptional event."

Wout van Art wins Coppa Bernocchi as Soudal Quick-Step and Jumbo-Visma dominate proceedings

By Dan Benson

Wout van Aert (Jumbo-Visma) won the Coppa Bernocchi one-day race after unleashing an unstoppable sprint to the line on Monday.

The Belgian beat Vincenzo Albanese (EOLO-Kometa) and Andrea Bagioli (Soudal Quick-Step) to the line after Jumbo-Visma and Soudal Quick-Step dominated the race-winning break.

The two superpower teams, who are currently linked by a potential merger ahead of the 2024 season, had three riders each in the final break that formed over the top of the final ascent of the Piccoli Stelvio.

Van Aert was joined by teammates Tiesj Benoot and Jan Tratnik, while Soudal Quick-Step had Bagioli, Julian Alaphilippe and Fausto Masnada to count on.

Read more: Talk of the Visma-Soudal merger is 'a bit tiresome', says Julian Alaphilippe

There were few attacks in the closing kilometres with only a tentative move coming from Alaphilippe in the last 2km.

Coming into the finish Benoot hit the front with Van Aert on his wheel, and despite opening his sprint from a long way out the Jumbo-Visma leader had more than enough to hold off the late charge from the opposition.

Read the full report: Coppa Bernocchi: Wout van Aert wins from Jumbo-Visma and Soudal Quick-Step heavy break

Today's other headlines

From an octopus’ garden in the shade, it is time to bid adieu. Until the next time.

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