The Giro d’Italia marks the first point in the season at which the transfer market turns towards the grand tour contenders.
Unsurprisingly, Ineos Grenadiers is once again central to the speculation and rumors surrounding several high profile riders with Richard Carapaz and Adam Yates both out of contract for next season.
Respected, and well-connected, Italian journalist Ciro Scognamiglio wrote Wednesday that Adam Yates has been linked with a potential return to BikeExchange, two years after he left the Australian team for Ineos.
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At the same time, Carapaz has been linked with a move away from the British team with his contact also up for renewal. The Olympic champion is currently leading the team at the Giro d’Italia and has the squad’s full backing, while Yates is quietly building towards his challenge at the Tour de France.
The next few weeks will be key when it comes to both riders’ futures and Ineos’ Rod Ellingworth is tasked with ensuring that the squad performs both on the road and in the transfer market.
“We have nothing to add,” he initially told VeloNews when asked about the speculation surrounding Yates and another Ineos climber, Eddie Dunbar. The Irishman is more than likely set to leave after missing out on a Giro d’Italia spot despite some recently impressive form with BikeExchange leading the charge for his signature.
“I’ve heard about it this morning but at the end of the day this is their careers and it would be wrong for me to spill any news,” Ellingworth added.
A potential move for Yates to BikeExchange certainly can’t be ruled out but it would mean some rejigging at the Australian squad. The team may struggle financially to house both Yates brothers, Dylan Groenewegen and Michael Matthews on the same roster without either making personnel changes or finding further investment. Competing with Ineos on price is also a factor.
“Why would we not want to keep him?” Ellingworth said in relation to Adam Yates. “He’s been bloody good for us and he’s had some bloody good performances. The thing is for me is all that I’m concentrating on is that he’s one of our leaders for the Tour de France.
“That’s all we’re concerned about, not the speculation, and Adam will make up his mind. He’s in our team now and we’re trying to get the best out of him for the Tour. He’s a good addition, he performs well and he’s focused on the Tour, and that’s the main thing.
“Are Adam Yates and Richard Carapaz good fits for our team? Yes. Have they been successful with our team? Absolutely. That’s where we stand.”
Central to all of this, however, is the long-term health of Egan Bernal. At the start of the year, it was certainly conceivable that Ineos could let go of either Yates or Carapaz, but due to Bernal’s life-threatening crash and his long-term recovery, the team is reluctant to rush in any direction.
Ineos is still a GC team at heart — despite its recent improvements in the classics — and while they have signed a raft of talent for the future, as well as extending with Tom Pidcock, its ambition remains on the grand tours.
With Bernal’s long-term future unclear when it comes to health and competitiveness over three weeks, the chances of Ineos giving up Yates or Carapaz without a fight are drastically reduced.
Ellingworth would not speculate on such a scenario but when asked if there was a chance of keeping Yates, Carapaz, and Bernal for 2023, he responded: “Potentially. We’ve got them now.”
Carapaz’s contract situation will probably be resolved after the Giro d’Italia unless a rival team offers him ludicrous money during the race.
As for Dylan van Baarle, the winner of this year’s Paris-Roubaix, it looks increasingly likely that the Dutchman will move to Jumbo-Visman for next season with the Dutch media posting news Tuesday that the rider had signed a three-year contract to join up with Wout van Aert.
Again, Ellingworth would not confirm that Baarle was leaving the team but the team director recognized the fact that Van Baarle’s market value has never been so high.
“Dylan, I heard that, but it’s still ongoing. If you think about the classics team. He’s obviously going to take the opportunities and he needs to make the most out of what he’s just done, I’m sure. For us, he’s been one of the most professional bike riders who I’ve come across.”