Thijs Zonneveld: "It would actually be nice for Evenepoel if the teams merged"

Jumbo-Visma and Soudal - Quick-Step may end up uniting as one team in the coming years. Although unlikely, the possibility of Remco Evenepoel teaming up with the likes of Jonas Vingegaard, Primoz Roglic and Sepp Kuss is possible. Thijs Zonneveld sees this as possible good news for the Belgian.

"I really didn't see this coming. Of course I also called around and it does indeed seem that it is a very serious option," the Dutch analyst said in the Het Wiel podcast. "It depends on who you put yourself in. Lefevere wants to get rid of his team and the shares, so for him it seems a very logical and desirable move. And Soudal Quick-Step has contracted or re-signed very few riders in recent weeks. So I understand it from Lefevere's point of view."

Whilst it is unlikely that anything will happen in this winters' window, into 2025 the chances increase, in what could be a beneficial situation for a few in both teams. Zonneveld believes that uniting Evenepoel with the staff and work methods of Jumbo-Visma could take the time-trial World Champion to a new level, that he has not reached yet.

"It would actually be nice for Evenepoel if the teams merged. Of course, leading in the Grand Tours will be difficult. But he would like better guidance, better nutrition plans, etc. And if it is true, he will end up with the team where such things are best arranged," he argues. "It is also a good move from that point of view. But if you look at it from the perspective of the other party, you really don't understand what benefit they would get from it."

The difference in mentality, communication and work methods is a very important point in the Dutchman's point of view. "They are two completely different teams. Jumbo-Visma is the best cycling team in the world. Everything works there." However, he questions the need for Jumbo's desire to make this move happen, as they have already won all Grand Tours this year - with whole podium at the Vuelta - and have little space to improve in a place where Evenepoel would in theory add the most.

"They don't really need a rider like Evenepoel... All other Soudal Quick-Step riders are good, but not better than those of Jumbo-Visma. How are you going to fit that in? [...] The only reason for Jumbo-Visma to merge with Soudal Quick-Step is that they see no option to attract another sponsor," Zonneveld argues. "It is a complete mismatch both culturally and sportingly!'

However he fears that if the merger goes through, it ultimately leads to the demise of other teams, who will find themselves racing against even stronger competition, and have less gains from the money invested in their teams - beside the likelihood that the end of one team would cause a chain reaction leading to more riders and staff losing their place in the peloton.

"It's bad news for cycling, because they apparently haven't found a new sponsor. It's just one team less, isn't it? There is less room for riders, because there is probably less money involved. If such a large team cannot find a sponsor, that is really bad for cycling. Maybe they think that the riders will complain because they want more money and otherwise they will leave. If this is one of your few options, then maybe you should do it. But you don't do this out of luxury. That is extremely worrying," he concluded.

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