The rumours and speculation of unrest inside Team DSM have been a running storyline in the last few seasons.
Following the departure of Tom Dumoulin and key staff from then-Sunweb, the team have faced broken contracts, riders breaking lockdown rules, and a dispute over saddle height.
At the start of the 2021 season, the media and fans were shocked to hear that star Swiss rider, Marc Hirschi, was angling for a move that would break his contract with the team. This was after he appeared in the team's new kit photo shoots for the new season, alongside new signing Romain Bardet.
Eventually, Hirschi did move on to join UAE Team Emirates but has failed to hit the heights of the 2020 season due to illness and injury. He is also unable to discuss the reasons for leaving DSM.
But he was not the first and hasn't been the last to leave the team in a sore manner. Tom Dumoulin and Marcel Kittel both left under a cloud. Dumoulin also took a large part of the team with him to Jumbo-Visma meaning new staff were needed.
In more recent times, stories of Michael Storer being kicked off the training camp in the summer of 2020 for buying shampoo from a shop came out as well as Søren Kragh Andersen being refused when he asked for his saddle height to be changed.
Team sports directors Matt Winston and Rudi Kemna spoke in an interview with Wielerflits (opens in new tab).
Kemna spoke about the rumours of riders wanting to leave the team: "We are very eager to share our goals and the way we work towards them with the outside world. On the other hand, we also find integrity important. The rumours you're talking about are mostly about internal stuff. Things that don't have to come out.
"And of course, we will not immediately respond to that in the media. One of our keywords is cooperation. Respect is an important pillar in this. We, therefore, expect our employees and riders not to share certain 'issues' with the media."
Ilan van Wilder, Kragh Andersen, Jai Hindley, Andreas Leknessund and more have been rumoured to either want to leave or for there to be a change. Hindley, who finished second in the Giro in 2020, has already signed for Bora-Hansgrohe with Storer leaving for Groupama-FDJ in the 2022 season.
Van Wilder is one rider that had a lot of "friction" around him as the young Belgian climber was rumoured he wanted to leave but DSM "do not intend to let Van Wilder leave." as he is contracted until 2022.
Kemna was keen to point out that the press never asked him or anyone else at the team for answers during the Tour de France even though he would've been happy to be quoted.
"I've seen a lot of negative messages about our team, but nobody ever came to ask me anything in the Tour. Of course, the media has an observational role and you have to bring news. That seems fair to me, but we are involved. You can check with us to see if it is correct."
The team look to be very focused on their main goals with a huge amount of focus on the Grand Tours and Monuments, like British Cycling do for the Olympics. this isn't an accident.
Winston spoke about the upcoming Vuelta a España: "We create a top sports environment. Soon I will leave for the Vuelta. We are on-site three days in advance and discuss everything in detail. After that, we can start with a clear mind and only talk about the course. I'm from British Cycling, where we used to work like that, albeit with the Olympics as the main goal. At Team DSM, too, we want to achieve our goals in perfect conditions."
It isn't all mass exodus at DSM though, former rider John Degenkolb will be returning to the team after a few seasons away with Trek-Segafredo and Lotto-Soudal in the 2022 season.
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