According to reports in Belgium, Ineos Grenadiers is set to make several management changes with three sports directors set to leave and two new faces on the way in.
The news comes a day after VeloNews revealed that the British team had pursued Remco Evenepoel over a possible transfer for next season.
Despite confirming that Ineos boss Dave Brailsford had asked about the rider in a text message, and the fact that sources have told VeloNews that the British team’s interest is genuine, Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl team boss Patrick Lefevere hit back, telling the Belgian press that there is “0.00 percent” chance of a transfer taking place.
Het Laatste Nieuws reports that Servais Knaven, Gabriel Rasch, and Brett Lancaster will leave the British WorldTour team at the end of the season. Knaven has been with the British team as a sports director since 2011, while Rasch joined in 2014 and Lancaster two years later.
This year Knaven was not at the Tour de France with the team, a first since his arrival on the team. It’s unclear where the former Dutch rider will go for 2023.
Ineos is poised to bring in two new directors with former Team Sky and Ineos rider Ian Stannard and current Quick-Step AlphaVinyl director Davide Bramati. The Italian has been part of the Belgian team for almost a quarter of a century, first as a rider and then as a director.
The team continues to make structural changes, with team owner Jim Ratcliffe parachuting one of his sons, Sam Ratcliffe in as the head of communications. In 2021 Rod Ellingworth returned to the team after a brief spell at Bahrain Victorious.
Lefevere plays down Evenepoel move
Meanwhile Quick-Step team boss Lefevere quelled speculation that his star rider Remco Evenepoel is being courted by Ineos Grenadiers after VeloNews reported that the British team was chasing the newly crowned world champion in a bid to bolster its options for the Tour de France next year.
Evenepoel is locked in through 2026 with Quick-Step, but that hasn’t stopped the Ineos management from exploring its options.
The rider’s father denied that he had met with team representatives in Belgium following his son’s Vuelta a España win, but Brailsford has been in contact with both the family and Lefevere in recent weeks via text messages.
According to Lefevere, he asked if there was a chance of a transfer taking place.
On Wednesday, after VeloNews ran an exclusive story on Ineos’ pursuit for the grand tour winner, Lefevere told Het Laatste Nieuws: “If in a marriage someone is cheated by his partner, then that person involved is always the last to know. I will not say more about that.”
A day later, the Belgian boss’s language was a little more bullish.
“I have signed contracts for five years, with Remco as well as with Soudal, Quick-Step and Specialized. Alaphilippe is also locked in for another three years. Nothing is binding in life, but I will do my utmost to keep those agreements. I don’t like to use the word ‘family’ because if you are married you can always divorce today, but there are no intentions in that sense,” he told Het Nieuwsblad.
“Almost the whole world has tried to call me. Everything is for sale, but give me a reason why our boss [Zdenek Bakkala] would sell his team to another billionaire? That will not happen. It’s too stupid for words. Is there not a very small chance of water? 0.00 percent. For me it’s unmentionable,” Lefevere added.
“I like Remco and Patrick. They called me to reassure me, but actually I had to laugh with the whole saga. I happen to have dinner with Patrick on Thursday and we’re going to discuss how we’re going to go about it all in the coming weeks: the ceremony in Brussels, that match in Binche, and so on. They both urged me not to believe the Ineos saga.”