ALICANTE, Spain (VN) — Frustrated Sunweb management sent star French rider Warren Barguil packing for home Saturday.
Sunweb cited Barguil’s unwillingness to “confirm the team’s goal,” and expelled the recent Tour de France two-time stage-winner and king of the mountains winner from the Vuelta a España.
The team didn’t offer concrete examples of Barguil’s indiscretions, but according to the Dutch media, the team has been unhappy with the Frenchman’s independent streak on other occasions.
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In Friday’s stage into Cuenca, Barguil stayed with the GC favorites rather than drop back and help designated team GC captain Wilco Kelderman when he punctured late in the stage.
Kelderman sunk from 11th to 14th, while Barguil remained 13th overall. That seemed to be the straw that broke the camel’s back.
“I have to leave the Vuelta by the decision of the team,” Barguil said. “I feel very well and have good legs. I see myself in a different role and am eager to attack in the mountains, as I did in the Tour. The Vuelta is a great race and it is disappointing to leave, but this is a decision from the team that I need to accept.”
Barguil told VeloNews at the start of the Vuelta he was in stage-hunting mode, and would help Kelderman to fight for the GC. Friday’s hiccup certainly revealed deeper division between the Frenchman and the Dutch team, which puts heavy emphasis on teamwork and sacrifice ahead of individual exploits.
Perhaps another reason the team didn’t cut Barguil any slack is that he’s breaking a year left on his contract and leaving the team at the end of this season to join second-division Fortuneo-Oscaro on a multi-year deal.
Barguil told VeloNews at the start of the Vuelta that he “enjoyed my time at Sunweb,” but said he wanted to take on more responsibility. With the emergence of Tom Dumoulin, Barguil was feeling squeezed out.
“The leadership at the Tour de France was very important for me,” Barguil said. “I will be the main leader. I am looking forward, but first I want to end the season in a nice way with this team. And I will do it.”
Barguil joined the Dutch team in 2012, and has been one of the squad’s shining stars. He won two stages in the 2013 Vuelta, and finished eighth overall the following season.
The team said Barguil would resume his planned schedule to close out the season with the team.
“Team Sunweb has decided to withdraw Warren Barguil from the Vuelta,” a press note read. “The 25-year-old … openly expressed that he didn’t race confirm [sic] to the team’s goal, which left Team Sunweb with no other option than to take this decision.”