Romain Bardet has been offered a contract with Team Sunweb for the 2021 season, the German team looking to make the Frenchman one of their team leaders.
As one of their climbing talents in Sam Oomen is said to be looking towards the exit door at the end of the year, Sunweb are looking to replenish their ranks, and Bardet is apparently looking for a change of scenery, having been with Ag2r La Mondiale since the start of his professional career in 2012.
“When the season starts again, talk about new riders for 2021 will start,” Sunweb manager Iwan Spekenbrink said earlier in the week, before the signing of 17-year-old prodigy Marco Brenner was announced.
A number of notable riders are out of contract at the end of this irregular season, most notably Chris Froome, who has been the subject of transfer rumours since disquiet amongst Ineos’ Tour de France line-up leaked out of the four-time winner’s camp.
Trek-Segafredo and Mitchelton-Scott are also said to be interested in Bardet, and while the 29-year-old’s agent Joona Laukka says his destination is currently unknown an onus will be put on signing with a team who are strongly against doping.
“Nothing has been finalised, not with Sunweb or with other teams,” Laukka told De Telegraaf. “It is quite easy to write down the names of teams where he could go.
“Those are teams with a strong ethic (against doping), even though you can never be 100 per cent sure of all riders.”
Sunweb have struggled with retaining climbing talent in recent years, with Warren Barguil leaving at the end of the 2017 season while Tom Dumoulin made the switch to Jumbo-Visma during 2019 as the Dutchman was recovering from injury.
In an attempt to revitalise his career, having so far failed to take the next step up to claiming the yellow jersey following consecutive Tour de France podium placings in 2016 and 2017, Bardet had intended to skip the French Grand Tour in 2020 and ride the Giro d’Italia instead.
However, the revised WorldTour calendar means he will likely return to the Tour de France for the eighth time in his career, having won the polka dot jersey in last year’s edition.