Chris Froome's transfer out of Ineos is a matter of 'when' and not 'if', according to Italian media reports.
Since rumours first emerged of the four-time Tour de France champion being unsettled at his current employers, numerous teams have been linked with acquiring his services as soon as this summer, with Froome looking to secure an outright leadership role in pursuit of a record-equalling fifth title.
Ambitious WorldTour newcomers Israel Start-Up Nation continued to be the 35-year-old's most likely destination, with Gazzetta dello Sport reporting it's only a matter of time before this transfer is complete.
The Israeli team apparently want to get Froome on their books as soon as possible, giving him a long-term contract to signify their intent to compete at the sharp end of many top races, but the end of the season appears a more likely arrival date.
The Italian newspaper also reports the break down in relationship between Froome and Ineos boss Dave Brailsford, while Froome's spot in the Ineos 2020 Tour squad is also said to not be guaranteed.
Back in January, Brailsford announced Ineos' plans for the season ahead, saying that both Egan Bernal and Geraint Thomas would return to the Tour de France in the summer to share team leadership responsibilities once again. At that time, Brailsford only gave an update on Froome, saying his rider was "working very very hard at the minute to get back to the level required to be competitive". Froome then returned to racing at the UAE Tour in late February, his first back after crashing at the 2019 Critérium du Dauphiné.
A feature-length film made by Ineos is also said to be in the works documenting Froome's recovery after his crash and leading up to the point where he makes the startline in his comeback Grand Tour - not guaranteed to be the Tour de France.
Froome is currently training at altitude in Isola, a ski resort in southeastern France, alongside team-mates including Dylan van Baarle and Pavel Sivakov, where he will hope to be showing competitive enough numbers to make the British team's eight-man Tour squad, which will set off from Nice on August 29.
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Hi. I'm Cycling Weekly's Weekend Editor. I like writing offbeat features and eating too much bread when working out on the road at bike races.
Before joining Cycling Weekly I worked at The Tab and I've also written for Vice, Time Out, and worked freelance for The Telegraph (I know, but I needed the money at the time so let me live).
I also worked for ITV Cycling between 2011-2018 on their Tour de France and Vuelta a España coverage. Sometimes I'd be helping the producers make the programme and other times I'd be getting the lunches. Just in case you were wondering - Phil Liggett and Paul Sherwen had the same ham sandwich every day, it was great.
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