Alberto Contador is said to have already inked a deal to continue with Trek-Segafredo for 2018 and Louis Meintjes, 11th in the Tour right now, reportedly did so with Dimension Data, leaving UAE Team Emirates. His agent says that negotiations are still ongoing.
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“It’s all based on this Tour, but five years in this team, he’s [Aru] not going to change teams just for the sake of it,” Astana team manager Giuseppe Martinelli told Cycling Weekly.
“Alexandre Vinokourov [the team’s general manager] is doing everything to keep him. For sure, there are teams that want him, and when teams are out for a rider it make things difficult.
“I would like to think that Fabio understands that this is his team. He has super riders available to help him to win big races.”
Aru reportedly had been asking for €3 million a year, but his agent then returned to Astana general manager Alexandre Vinokourov and said €2 million would suffice.
No deal was made and now, after the Planche des Belles Filles stage victory and second place standing in the Tour, that asking price is said to have jumped to €4 million.
Such figures are reserved for cycling’s superstars and Aru has yet to achieve that ranking. Chris Froome (Team Sky) brings in an estimated £4 million [€4.54m], but the Brit has won the Tour three times already and is more marketable than Aru who only speaks Italian and draws little interest outside the Bel Paese.
UAE Emirates with Brit Ben Swift and South African Louis Meintjes stand first in line for Aru. General manager Giuseppe Saronni was unavailable when called for comment on this article.
“The Emirates is an important region and want to back this project,” said sponsor liaison Mauro Gianetti. “We need to grow our team, it’s true. We didn’t have time last season to make those signings. It helps to approach riders with these sponsors behind you.
“We have very important sponsors, ADS, UAE and Emirates. This team has a long term plan, not just in it for one year, but for multiple seasons.”
UAE Emirates had been in contact with Geraint Thomas before the Welshman re-signed with Sky this summer for the 2018 and 2019 seasons. After coming in late last off-season, the sponsors want to invest more in Saronni’s team.
Such an Aru/UAE deal would not leave much room for 25-year-old South African Louis Meintjes, who is battling for the white jersey with current wearer Simon Yates (Orica-Scott) at the Tour de France.
Meintjes is reported to have already inked a deal with home team Dimension Data, which brought Mark Cavendish on board in 2016.
General manager Douglas Ryder is pushing hard for Meintjes, who left the team when it was MTN-Qhubeka for Lampre-Merida in 2016, but, Meintjes’s agent has said that nothing is official yet.
Trek-Segafredo wanted Fabio Aru considering its co-title sponsor Segafredo is based in Italy. However, all negotiations have ended due to Alberto Contador.
Contador had an option, but not a formal option to continue through 2018 when he joined the team last year. Officially, the Spanish Grand Tour great will decide after the Tour.
Unofficially, Contador has already signed for 2018 and the team stopped looking for a Grand Tour stars like Aru. Segafredo made a deal so that Contador will lead its team in the 2018 Giro d’Italia.
“Fabio should stay with us,” added Martinelli. “If we speak about that team [UAE], for sure, they have less big riders to help than we do here.
“Vinokourov is going to do all he can to have him remain here. Now, though, we want to aim at doing well in this Tour and be competitive like we are in this moment.”