World champion Michal Kwiatkowski is reportedly negotiating a new contract for 2016 and beyond with three teams including Team Sky. The 24-year-old Pole already boasts a strong palmarés, having won the Amstel Gold Race a week ago in the Netherlands and the world championship last year in Spain.
Kwiatkowski’s agent explained to Cycling Weekly that they have not signed anything official yet, but that they are working on it.
“We are talking with Patrick Lefevere, with two other teams that Michal is interested in. Sky and another one that I can’t say,” said Giuseppe Acquadro.
“Sky is interested in Michal, Etixx knows that. Sky’s a big team, one of the biggest in this moment. If he needs to change, it’s normal that he goes to one of the big ones. Like everyone knows, Sky’s up there with Etixx and Movistar.”
Acquadro revealed that they’ll continue talk to teams in May and have a decision made by July.
A Team Sky spokesperson told Cycling Weekly on Wednesday: “We never comment on rider movements until contracts are fully signed and we don’t react to speculation.”
Kwiatkowski joined Etixx in 2012 when it was called Omega Pharma and went on to place fourth behind Sky’s Chris Froome in Tirreno-Adriatico and 11th overall in the Tour de France in 2013. He rocketed through 2014 with the overall in the Volta ao Algarve, Strade Bianche and of course, the world title in Ponferrada, Spain.
Lefevere may have a hard time holding on to Kwiatkowski with several other contracts on the team expiring at the end of 2015: Mark Cavendish, Tom Boonen, Zdenek Stybar, Rigoberto Urán and young rider Julian Alaphilippe.
“Fact is,” Lefevere told Belgium’s Het Nieuwsblad, “we have no additional budget available and none of my riders dropping in price.”
Acquadro would not say how much Kwiatkowski wants, but it could be around €2m or £1.43m a year.
“He wants a long-term contract. That’s needed so that he has time to plan and to grow within a team,” Acquadro added.
“He wants different things: to develop in one-day race, in stage races…The money is important, of course. He needs to feel well in the team too. It all has value. To be honest, 200,000 here or there won’t change much. It’s important that he feels well in the team.”
It is unknown if Sky is interested in Kwiatkowski as a stage racer or as a one-day rider. His only GC win to date is the 2014 Algarve, but this year he placed second behind Geraint Thomas (Team Sky) in the same race, second behind Richie Porte (Team Sky) in Paris-Nice and eighth behind Joaquím Rodríguez (Katusha) in the Tour of the Basque Country.
The British team already has men for grand tours, with Froome and Porte. Porte, though, has a contract expiring this year.
“Michal has to evaluate that…They also have Sergio Henao, who’s improving after injuries and will have a good Vuelta a España this year,” said Acquadro.
“A Tour de France with time trials like the one that Wiggins won in 2012 could suit Michal, he could win or play for the podium.
“Patrick says that he can’t win the Tour, and he may change his mind. Or maybe Michal Kwiatkowski can’t become a Tour winner. That’s the great thing about sport, you just don’t know.”