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“It all depends on the prices. Everything is possible if everyone is reasonable. I believe my intuition. I’ve been in this business for long enough to know and I’m 98 per cent right.”

Photo: OPQS / Tim De Waele

PATRICK LEFEVERE

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07.06.2015 @ 16:45 Posted by Joseph Doherty

Etixx-QuickStep and their sponsors seem to hold the key for any of the big transfers that will happen later this year. Some of the biggest riders available at the end of this year ride for the Etixx team: Tom Boonen, Mark Cavendish, Rigoberto Uran, Michal Kwiatkowski, Zdenek Stybar and Mark Renshaw.

 

Kwiatkowski is reported to have signed for Sky, but he has told his teammates that this isn’t the case. Lefevere himself looks happy to lose a few of the names listed above and has been linked with the likes of Richie Porte, Dan Martin, Ryder Hesjedal and Mikel Landa.

 

“I’m more or less where I want to be in terms of my plans,” Lefevere told Cyclingnews from his office in Belgium.

 

“However, I have the impression, and I don’t think that I’m alone, that agents are calling me a lot and that means the market isn’t moving that quickly. I don’t think many teams are signing riders at the moment. Normally we’re paying what the market asks so if you saw in the past when Sky came into cycling the prices went up, but now the market is standing still.”

 

Speaking on Sky, Lefevere suggested jokingly that every out of contract rider is going to Sky.

 

“If I listen to the agents Dave Brailford is about to sign 35 riders because everyone I speak to says that they have an offer from Team Sky,” says Lefevere.

 

“Brailford could make three or four teams from the speculation that’s going around now but right now I’m sitting in my seat and I’m confident.”

 

But he was very serious when discussing world champion Kwiatkowski, who he says isn’t sure if he has signed for Sky or not.

 

“I don’t know if he’s signed for them. We’re still speaking but I don’t know the latest. The riders talk to you but then they ask you to talk to the agent. The importance of the agent is greater, sometimes, than I wish. Even if it’s true that he’s signed for Team Sky he won’t say it because you can’t confirm transfers until August but of course by August most of the best riders are gone.”

 

“I don’t know if he’ll stay. He’s said he wants to stay, his agents plays other games but that’s normal because that’s his role but I don’t know what will happen yet.”

 

Mark Cavendish is another key rider Etixx want to keep past this season. Cav wants a new deal, but Lefevere cant give him one until after the Tour as he will know then how much money the sponsors for 2016 will give him as a contracts budget. He also needs to see what the Brit can do at the Tour, the biggest race of the season.

 

“I can’t sign Mark Cavendish before the Tour, even if he’s nervous but the situation is what it is. Everyone wants a guarantee in April but I have to justify my budget with the board. I don’t think it’s healthy to sign an entire team by June because there might be other opportunities and you need to save a bit of room,” Lefevere tells Cyclingnews.

 

“You have Mark who wins a lot of races but the Tour de France gives more than 60 per cent of a rider’s publicity and value. So if he can win at he Tour then it’s a totally different discussion. Mark is intelligent enough to understand this. It’s that I want to put pressure on him, that’s not what I want, but everyone has to justify their salary, myself included. So I’ll make a decision during the Tour de France. Everyone likes him and he likes us but we’re all professionals and we’re talking about money and budgets. If there’s a will I think there’s a way but I have to justify it all to the owners.”

 

Rigoberto Uran’s price will have dropped after the horrible Giro he had and this may make him easier to keep or may make him go as more teams can afford him. 

 

“Rigoberto was a bit ill in the Giro. He didn’t perform in the manner that he or I expected but we’ll see. First we need to decide his programme and see if he’ll do the Tour. Then we’ll look at his future. I don’t know if he stays. It’s not just about two parties, nowadays it’s about three parties. There’s always the agent who wants a certain direction,” he says.

 

Tom Boonen recently spoke on TV show Café Corsari, saying he wants to stay with the team but the reason he hasn’t signed a new deal is because he is being offered a two-year deal and he only wants to sign a one-year contract.

 

“It is my intention to remain with the team,” he said on the show. “The stumbling block is the duration of the contract. I would like to sign for one year instead of two. Then after that year I can see what I want to do.”

 

Lefevere also spoke on the numerous amounts of riders who he has been linked with signing, saying nothing is decided as he is focusing on keeping his big names first.

 

“You can give thirty other names. There’s Hesjedal, there’s Dan Martin, there’s Porte, Izagirre, Landa, Jurgen Van den Broeck, Monfort, I can go on and on,” Lefevere says when asked about Mikel Landa.

 

One rider catching the Etixx manager’s attention is Richie Porte, who he says he would like to have on his team but it depends, as always, on what he will cost.

 

“Porte is an interesting rider. He performance right the way from the start of the season up until the Giro. Unfortunately he then has a lot of bad luck but of course in the next few weeks I have some riders in the balance and we’ll see what we can do.”

 

While many are certain the Belgian team will lose at least one of their stars this year, Lefevere says nothing is impossible.

 

“It all depends on the prices. Everything is possible if everyone is reasonable. I think that the press is more nervous than I am. I believe my intuition so if I think today is the right time to close a contract we’ll do it. I’ve been in this business for long enough to know and I’m 98 per cent right.”

 

 

 

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