Ineos Grenadiers have refused to commit giving Adam Yates the same Grand Tour racing opportunities, as both parties sit down to discuss a possible contract extension.
The Briton signed for Ineos two seasons ago after seven years racing under the various guises of what is now BikeExchange-Jayco.
Yates was brought into the team to continue scoring podium places in week-long stage races and to also contend for major honours in Grand Tours, but the 29-year-old has enjoyed mixed fortunes during his first two seasons with Ineos.
He won the 2021 Volta a Catalunya and has claimed two seconds and two fourths in other stage races, but he has struggled to make his mark in three-week races.
At last year's Vuelta a España, both Yates and teammate Egan Bernal were tipped for glory, but Yates never threatened eventual winner Primož Roglič, only moving up to fourth overall on the penultimate day of racing.
He was one of three leaders at this year's Tour de France for Ineos, but after abandoning the Tour de Suisse a month earlier due to a Covid infection that left him bed-bound for multiple days, Yates finished 10th, almost 25 minutes behind the victor Jonas Vingegaard.
With his contract up for renegotiation, Ineos' deputy team principal Rod Ellingworth was unsure what roles Yates would be given if he decided to re-sign. "It's too early to say, I don't know," Ellingworth told Cycling Weekly after the Tour's finish in Paris.
"For sure we'll go away and have a little think. There's a couple of restructures [to come], we have got a really good young group, we are building a good group, so [there's] a bit of thinking."
Asked if Yates' time so far with the team had been successful, Ellingworth responded: "This [the Tour] was a big moment for him. When you target the Tour, and you really try and ramp up [the training] before the Tour, when that doesn't come off, it's quite difficult to put your season together.
"He's still got some racing to do so we'll see at the end of the year. But it's certainly been a hard run for him. Something has just always got in the way of him this year.
"He's been sick a number of times, and Covid in Suisse really put him in a bad place. We took a risk in selecting him, [but] we brought him him because we thought it was still worth bringing him here but he still got sick again."
On a potential new contract, Ellingworth said that "I am sure he's got some interest because at the end of the day he's a talented bike rider."
Bernal, meanwhile, has been told that he is not guaranteed a return to racing before the season has finished.
The Colombian was involved in a horror crash in his home country in late January, but has made a spectacular full recovery, with the 25-year-old making no secret of his desire to race as soon as possible.
His performances and numbers in recent training camp in Andorra impressed his team, but they overlooked him for the Vuelta a Burgos and it is seen as improbable that he will be at the Vuelta a España.
Ellingworth went even further to suggest that the 2019 Tour winner may even have to wait until 2023 before pinning a race number on again.
He said: "We've talked a lot about it and there's no certainty that he's going to race, but we'd like to see him racing before the end of the year. We've yet to decide [what type of race it would be].
"It's too much to say that he's doing the same numbers [as before] but he's training well, he's putting the hours in and is progressing well."
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