Ever since it was first reported that two of cycling's most successful and most well-known teams, Soudal - Quick-Step and Jumbo-Visma could be merging, almost everyone in the sport has shared their opinion. It's doubtful any have been as vociferous as Jan Bakelants however.
Speaking to Het Laatste Nieuws, the former Tour de France stage winner gave a scathing response to the rumours and slammed both teams for the potential damage they could cause to the sport as a whole if the deal were to come true.
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“The adverse consequences of this potential takeover for cycling are very significant,” Bakelants explains. “A strong sports body should veto. I just don't think this should happen. The entire sport will be put to shame if this were to continue. The explanation is: we have to do this to compete with the Middle East. I have never read so much nonsense."
"If there was one team that destroyed everything, it was Jumbo-Visma. Then the teams from the Middle East would have to form a cartel against Jumbo-Visma," he continues. “What does Richard Plugge have to gain? I think there was a concrete offer from the Middle East and that led to a conflict of conscience. Then this would be the quick solution. Why? It seems to me that there was still time to see what else was possible.”