John Degenkolb will ride for one of two teams next year, and Giant – Alpecin isn’t one of them.
The 2015 Paris-Roubaix winner confirmed the rumors of his departure from the Dutch team via his new agent on Friday. He has narrowed his team search down to two squads, neither of which was named. He will announce his final decision in August.
“This has been a tough decision, but it has been a thorough and deliberate process to be sure we end up in the best possible situation,” Degenkolb said. “We have narrowed negotiations to two teams for next year and beyond.”
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Degenkolb’s new agent is the Fairly Group, a Texas-based sports consulting and risk management firm that is run by the father of Degenkolb’s recently retired teammate, Caleb Fairly. Fairly announced his intention to become a rider’s agent when he retired from pro cycling at the Amgen Tour of California in May.
The younger Fairly indicated that he would lean on the family business to improve his riders’ contracts, which he described as woefully behind the times. Degenkolb referred to this new approach in his announcement. “My next contract will be about much more than money. Besides considering the best team fit, it will also be about image rights, my protection as a sportsman, and other details which have not historically been part of rider contract negotiations.”
“Image and data rights are an issue which, before now, have largely been overlooked by riders. John’s contract negotiations have been somewhat deliberate because many teams are not yet comfortable with the intricacies of this issue,” Fairly said. “John’s next contract will be the first contract which appropriately acknowledges the value of image and data rights for a rider of John’s stature.”
Degenkolb has spent much of the 2016 season recovering from a horrific training crash in January, which was caused by a car driving on the wrong side of the road and injured six Giant – Alpecin riders. Degenkolb’s left index finger remains in a splint after it was almost severed in the crash.
The crash is unlikely to have dented the German’s value too heavily. Degenkolb has been linked to Trek – Segafredo, which will have budget freed up by the retirement of Fabian Cancellara.
“With Fabian leaving, we need to find a substitute,” said Trek manager Luca Guercilena. “We have been working the market to replace him with a strong classics rider.”
The transfer season is in full swing at the Tour de France, which often sees its rest days used as used to firm up deals for the following year. The latest confirmed signing is that of Steven Kruijswijk, who was fourth at this year’s Giro d’Italia. He will stay on with LottoNL – Jumbo for another two years.