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Rest days at the Giro d’Italia are always dominated by meetings between team managers and rider agents.
So on Monday, while riders were ushered onto Zoom calls to sit uncomfortably and answer questions about form and fitness, their representatives were often off-screen, negotiating deals for the coming year.
The biggest rider this applies to at the Giro d’Italia is Richard Carapaz, who is in the final season of his three-year contract at Ineos Grenadiers.
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Speculation has been mounting for weeks that the Olympic road champion has already agreed terms to return to his previous team, Movistar. One source even told VeloNews this week that terms had been drawn up after last year’s Tour de France.
According to his agent, however, Carapaz is still on the market with three potential suitors in the frame.
“We’re in talks with Ineos to renew and for sure with Movistar. Also EF Education-EasyPost is interested. There are three teams interested,” Italian super-agent and Carapaz’s representative Giuseppe Acquadro told VeloNews.
“I think that he will decide at the end of the Giro. He is looking for a three- to four-year contract.”
A move to Movistar would see Carapaz help fill the void left by Alejandro Valverde, who is due to retire at the end of the season. Carapaz would potentially share leadership duties with Enric Mas, who has targeted the Tour de France in recent years.
Ineos Grenadiers is in a tricky spot when it comes to their grand tour leadership structure.
There’s still no certainty that Egan Bernal will return to his old form following his career-threatening crash earlier in the season. The Colombian is back in Europe now and undergoing his next round of rehabilitation, but there are no concrete plans regarding his potential return to competition.
Adam Yates is also out of contract at the end of the season, but according to sources he is content to stay at the team if and when they offer him a contract extension.
The fact that Carapaz at the very least is entertaining offers and interest from rival teams suggests that he is willing to sound out a move.
Acquadro said it’s more than simply a question of leadership at the Tour.
“The question is a little bit on this, but it’s also about price,” Acquadro said.
EF Education-EasyPost, the third team of interest, is likely to increase their activity in the search for a grand tour leader if Rigoberto Urán decides to retire at the end of the season.
The Colombian is another rider represented by Acquadro, and according to the agent, the former Tour runner-up will decide on his future after the Tour this summer.
Urán is also out of contract at the end of the year, and the 35-year-old certainly has an important decision to make as to whether he wants to slip more into a mentorship role or hang up his wheels entirely.
Out of all the teams interested in Carapaz, EF Education-EasyPost would certainly offer the clearest path in terms of leadership and freedom for Carapaz.
The team also a a solid base of climbers to help support the Olympic road champion, but the biggest hurdle could be price.