Victor Campenaerts could leave Lotto-Soudal as the Belgian team prioritise their funds for signing Paris-Roubaix winners Philippe Gilbert (Deceuninck – Quick-Step) and John Degenkolb (Trek-Segafredo), according to reports.
The team are said to have insufficient budget to re-sign the new Hour Record holder, who apparently turned down a new and improved contract earlier in the season, Belgian newspaper Het Nieuwsblad reports, with Campenaerts deciding to wait it out as other teams were circling with lucrative offers of their own.
However, once Campenaerts had decided he wanted to remain at Lotto-Soudal the team’s talks with Gilbert and Degenkolb had progressed so far down the road that the same offer was no longer there for the Belgian.
Campenaerts was offered a second contract renewal of far less value than the first offer, with Lotto-Soudal said to still be hoping to find additional budget and make a better proposal to the time-trial specialist. The team on Monday took to Twitter to state that contract negotiations were still ongoing with Campenaerts.
However, the Belgian isn’t holding out hope and will look for a new team for the 2020 season, a task he will have to accomplish on his own until he finds a new manager having recently relieved Dries Smets of his duties, who coincidentally also manages Philippe Gilbert.
Philippe Gilbert has said his non-selection for the Tour de France will definitely play a role in whether he renews with Deceuninck – Quick-Step, his current contract set to expire at the end of the season.
The Belgian said that as as soon as his omission from his squad’s Tour line-up was announced a number of other teams were straight on the phone to the Belgian.
Re-signing for Lotto-Soudal, where Gilbert had his most successful season ever on the bike in 2011, picking up the stage one victory and first yellow jersey of the Tour de France, both national road and time trial championships as well as a number of spring Classics titles including Liège-Bastogne-Liège, the Amstel Gold Race, Flèche Wallonne and Strade Bianche, would see the Belgian reunited with his old BMC boss John Lelangue.
Lelangue, a sports director at Lotto-Soudal, said that Gilbert was “on our list” of potential recruits, adding “I know Philippe well, he could be a real leader for our team. I’m definitely going to listen to his manager. He wants to race for another two years and I am convinced that he will do well. He still has the motivation of a junior.”
John Degenkolb will also miss out on the Tour de France this year, having taken a memorable and emotional stage victory at last year’s race, as his Trek-Segafredo team go all-in on the GC ambitions of Richie Porte, who has crashed out of the previous two editions of the Tour.
The 30-year-old told German news website Radsport News of his Tour omission: “[It is] a decision that I fully accept, because as I said earlier what is good for the team and their goals is good for all of us.
“The final decision has not yet quite fallen,” Degenkolb added, “but after six consecutive participations, not going there this year is for me to get over.”