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Froome a fading force, says supremo Lefevere

By MURRAY GREIG | China Daily | Updated: 2020-06-29 09:26
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Team Ineos' Chris Froome before the race during UAE Tour in Dubai, United Arab Emirates on Feb 23, 2020. [Photo/Agencies]

The most successful manager in the history of the cycling isn't shy about publicly dismissing fourtime Tour de France champion Chris Froome.

In a recent column for Brussels newspaper Het Niuwsblad, Patrick Lefevere, who over the past 20 years has helmed his teams to more than 200 victories and is now in charge of Belgium's Deceuninck-QuickStep UCI World Team, made it clear he's not in a position to sign Britain's Froome.

But if he were, he doesn't believe the 35-year-old represents "a worthwhile investment".

Lefevere cited Froome's age and his relationship with his agent as the main reasons for passing on the two-time Olympic bronze medalist, who has six months remaining on his contract with Team Ineos.

Last month, Froome told Cycling News he is considering a move-possibly even this season. Negotiations are ongoing and a decision is expected by early July.

"I'm not going to speak for anyone else here, but personally I wouldn't invest in a project around Froome anymore. It's not a worthwhile consideration. Respect for his palmares (prize list), but will he still win the Tour at the age of 35?" wrote Lefevere.

"What would also concern me with Froome is that his manager is his wife Michelle. Not that I would immediately turn that into a deal-breaker, but that kind of collaboration only causes misery. For Abraham Olano's contract, we had to pass through his wife at the time.

"The same goes for brothers who act as agents. That was the case with Oscar Freire and Alberto Contador. At QuickStep, we once sat around the table with his brother, Fran Contador. Alberto himself was not present, but Fran had invited a lawyer. That conversation was not about anything, because one did not speak English and the other did not speak French.

"Alberto Contador never rode for our team and I have never regretted it."

The team that appears to be the front-runner to sign Froome is Israel Start-Up Nation, and Lefevere revealed how its owners had come close to taking over his QuickStep team.

Israel Start-Up Nation graduated to the WorldTour this year after taking over the folding Katusha-Alpecin team's license. In 2018 Lefevere met twice in London with owner Sylvan Adams to plan a takeover, which was shelved when new sponsorship cash was found for QuickStep.

"We were very close to a deal … there was an agreement on the amount of the takeover, on the bicycle manufacturer, on the riders and the team management. I myself could stay on board for at least three more years," Lefevere wrote.

"Only because we still found a sponsor with Deceuninck, that project was canceled.

"Those conversations then all went in the utmost secrecy, with official confidentiality agreements even. Such an acquisition is a delicate matter."

SPINNING WHEELS: The updated UCI Women's World Tour Calendar, which had to be revised with the spread of the coronavirus pandemic, confirms the Tour of Chongming Island at the mouth of the Yangtze River, originally scheduled for May 7-9, will now be held Oct 23-25.

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