Updated: Conflicting reports about possible deal between Dekker and Lampre-Merida
Thomas Dekker’s long search for a replacement team may potentially be inching closer to a successful conclusion, with media reports suggesting that he could return to the WorldTour this season.
The Dutch rider was not retained by his Garmin-Sharp team after his contract expired at the end of 2014. Left without an alternative squad, he decided to attack the world hour record and to use that bid as a platform to show other teams he was still at a high level.
He made that bid on February 25 in Mexico. However the distance posted of 52.221 kilometres was 251 metres adrift of the record held by the Australian Rohan Dennis (BMC Racing Team).
Still, just over a week on from that, indications are that there is a push by a team’s co-sponsor to possibly bring him on board.
According to the Dutch paper De Telegraaf, the Merida bike company sees value in the possibility of signing him.
“We want to make the team more international and have been for some time looking for a rider in the Benelux,” said Merida’s Peter Koperdraad.
As the company is a co-sponsor of the team, it has a strong degree of influence.
“Last year the name Dekker was already talked about, but then his arrival was stopped by the Italians because they pointed to three quieter years in Garmin.
“Maybe his attempt to attack the hour record has made an impression. This week we are going to talk again.”
However, after being contacted by Tuttobiciweb, the team’s general manager Giuseppe Saronni has played down such talk.
“We never thought of Thomas Dekker,” he said, “because our philosophy is different. Maximum respect for Thomas, which also has had the courage to face a challenge like the hour record despite not having a professional team behind, but the philosophy of the Lampre Merida is to invest in young talents, add new pieces to the team of the future and to enhance interesting promises.”
Dekker was once regarded as one of the biggest young talents in cycling, but lost momentum after serving a ban.
He is just 30 years of age, with this plus his hour record display suggesting that he could have a few more years at a solid level.