Cycling association coach Rik Verbrugghe does not wait for evaluation buckle …

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Already at the last World Cup it seemed that Rik Verbrugghe was working on his last championship as national coach of the cycling association. His contract expires on December 31, 2020. Rumors of an end to the two-year collaboration are only getting stronger, now that it appears that the 46-year-old Verbrugghe is no longer waiting for the evaluation meeting with the union and has already started applying himself. with various professional teams. These are Cofidis, Circus – Wanty Gobert, Bahrain-Merida and even Lotto-Soudal.

It is no surprise that Verbrugghe is knocking on the door of Cofidis. He was a rider with the French team from 2006 to 2008. His then teammate and bosom friend Thierry Marichal has been a sports director for years. Verbrugghe also has a good relationship with foreman Cedric Vasseur. Verbrugghe wanted to start working part-time at Cofidis last year in order not to lose touch with the peloton, but that came across a njet from the Belgian cycling association. Much to Verbrugghe’s dissatisfaction.

In addition, Verbrugghe would also have offered himself to various other teams. His ex-employer Bahrain-Merida is part of this, as is Circus-Wanty Gobert. The Walloon team will be promoted in 2021 and must expand its sports staff. However, it is not yet clear what will happen to the remnants of CCC, from whom Circus – Wanty Gobert bought the license. For example, CCC team manager Jim Ochowicz could possibly join as a Sports Advisor. It is unclear whether there is still room available for Verbrugghe.

The name of Verbrugghe also sounds at Lotto-Soudal, but the chance that he will be able to start there seems very small. Lotto-Soudal is very tight on cash and has no space or budget for team leaders. All the more because John Lelangue as CEO also likes to get behind the wheel of the trailer. He did this, for example, in the Tour and the Brabantse Pijl. Not to the delight of the team leaders, by the way.

They do not wish to respond to the rumors at the Belgian federation. They want to talk to Verbrugghe first. The 2020 evaluation meeting has already been rescheduled twice. Initially, the conversation between Verbugghe and technical director Frederik Broché would take place last week, but then Broché had to go to the mountain bike world cup in Leogang. Because two staff members of the Belgian cycling association took a positive test on Covid-19 at that race, Broché will enter self-quarantine this week and the conversation will be moved again. Probably to next week.

At the association they are satisfied with Verbrugghe’s sporting achievements. At the last World Cup he won silver twice with Wout van Aert. He also does an excellent job with the promises. His bilingualism is also an asset.

What then speaks to Verbrugghe’s store is his communication. At the union they have already opened their eyes several times about what Verbrugghe announced in the (social) media. As a national coach, he once advertised his own bicycle shop and many professional cyclists complain about the lack of contact. Often they don’t hear from him for a very long time, until just before a championship. A big difference with his predecessor Kevin De Weert, who was in constant contact with most Belgian professional cyclists. The pitta incident at the latest European Championship in Brittany also did the relationship between the association and Verbrugghe not good. He was then sent home for breaking internal corona rules – leaving the team hotel to eat kebab elsewhere.

Although the evaluation conversation between Verbrugghe and the cycling association has yet to take place and an extension of the cooperation is still on the table, it seems likely that a new national coach will take up office from 1 January 2021. We don’t have to search long for his name: Sven Vanthourenhout – national coach cyclocross and assistant to Verbrugghe on the road – has been eager to take on that position for some time. He enjoys a lot of confidence among the majority of the riders and his shared track would also be financially good for the Belgian cycling association, because they don’t have to pay two people. After all, the cycling federation also has to make a living due to the corona crisis.

Verbrugghe is also aware of this situation and does not wait for a discussion with the union to start looking for alternatives.





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