Katusha seems to be interested in signing on Bjorn Leukemans.
Last Sunday, Leukemans said that a rider from another team approached him with intent of recruiting him. Leukemans did not reveal the identity of the team but Katusha sports director Jef Braeckevelt showed his interest over the 32-year-old athlete. “[He's been] top-ten in all of the Flemish Classics and made a big progression. Leukemans is the revelation of the spring,”said Braeckevelt.
Leukemans now has leverage when he re-negotiates with Vacansoleil next week regarding his contract, especially since ProTour squad Katusha team manager Andrei Tchmil asked Braeckevelt to make inquiries about him through his manager.
Hilaire Van der Schueren, manager of Vacansoleil, is quite certain that despite Katusha’s interest, Leukemans will stay with the team. “I think Leukemans will close his career with us. Keeping him on the team is our intention. He also has a contract for next year and there is no release clause in it. We will sit down together soon to break open and improve his contract.”
Katusha is known to sign riders even under mid-contract terms with other teams. Katusha also had its eye on Belgian Frederik Willems of Liquigas-Doimo. Willems is also being pursued by Omega Pharma-Lotto. Patrick Lefevere, manager of Quick Step will also start his search for new recruits this week. As a rule in UCI, teams are required to keep potential transfers confidential until September 1.