Spaniard still without a team for 2014
Juan Manuel Garate had a verbal contract with Belkin to ride for another year, but reneged on it according to Dutch newspaper AD.
In September, it was reported that Garate had signed a deal with the Dutch team, but it was never formally signed. The Spaniard is currently without a contract for 2014.
"It is unclear to us what is going on," Merijn Zeeman, directeur sportif for Belkin, told AD. "We would have loved to keep Juanma onboard because of his qualities as a rider. He agreed upon a new deal but all of a sudden he refused to sign."
It was reported that the deal included a significant pay cut, but Garate said that this was not the reason for refusing the verbal offer. He was coy on the real motivation for backing out. “My reasons are private,” he explained.
"If Belkin needs me, I am ready to come back. But at the moment I am not welcome with Belkin. It's a personal thing and has nothing to do with money. And no, it’s not to do with doping either."
Garate has been a professional since 2000 and has taken a stage victory in all three of the grand tours. Most famously, he won atop Mont Ventoux at the 2009 Tour de France. He has ridden a total of 26 of the three-week races, only failing to finish two, with his best result being fourth at the 2002 Giro d'Italia.
The Spaniard joined Belkin back in 2009, when it was Rabobank, and has ridden for its many leaders, including Robert Gesink with whom he is a good friend. The 37-year old was at the Belkin team training camp in November, but has since made no appearances with the team and is not named for any races.
Team manager Richard Plugge told AD, that he wasn't aware of Garate's reasons for backing out of the deal. Plugge was the team's communications manager, but took over the running of the team when Rabobank left at the end of 2012.
"Reaching a verbal deal and then not signing is something you don't ever see. He has a lot of explaining to do. I am quite curious so see what his