First the facts. André Greipel is 35 and out of contract at the end of the season. Caleb Ewan is 11 years Greipel’s junior and also out of contract at the end of the year. Lotto Soudal have a ready-made, but admittedly aging, lead-out train and have been linked to the Australian since the end of 2017. That speculation seemed to subside when Mitchelton-Scott announced in January that Ewan would make his Tour de France debut this year, with the news appearing to act as a sweetener to encourage the Australian to re-sign with the team and wade off interest from other parties.
In recent days, however, the Lotto Soudal rumours have resurfaced and even caught Mitchelton-Scott by surprise. Reports have circulated that Greipel has been offered a one-year extension to stay at Lotto but on less money and with the key proviso that he will no longer be the team’s number one sprint star. Those reports have been denied by Lotto Soudal’s general manager Paul De Geyter, who has stressed to Cyclingnews that negotiations with the German are ongoing and will ramp up on Friday when he meets with Greipel at the Tour de Suisse.
“We have a meeting on Friday and I’m sure that next season is going to on the agenda. I’m sorry to say that that’s a bad source,” De Geyter told Cyclingnews in relation to reports of a one-year deal having been offered.
“I’ve heard that we’ve offered him a one-year deal but that’s not correct. That source needs to check his information better. I’ve understood that André wants to have a two-year contract. Sure, we want to keep him and have him on the team and I hope that we find an agreement.”
The crux of the situation, however, depends on how much Lotto Soudal want Ewan, if indeed he has not already signed for them. With no deal in place yet with Mitchelton, the topic of Tour de France selection also remains open. De Geyter admitted to talking to Ewan’s agent and left the door open for having both riders on his team in 2019. His agent, who also represented Cadel Evans, could not be reached.
“There are two things. I need to think about the team for the upcoming years,” De Geyter also told Cyclingnews. “I hope that André will stay on the level that he can be the number one sprinter but I wouldn’t be a good manager if I didn’t think that maybe if there was a problem that we had an alternative. I’d love him to stay as the number one sprinter for sure. We still need to talk figures. I’ve not offered him a deal at all, we’ve just talked about the future and how we see things. We had a really good talk around April and we both discussed the future but we decided to take some time and we’re going to meet in Switzerland.
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