Joaquim Rodríguez is close to a new contract with Katusha, according to his manager Angel Edo. Rodríguez’s current deal is due to finish at the end of this season but Edo says that he could sign an extension before the Tour de France.
“A month ago we were more outside than inside, but now we can say that things have changed, although we have not yet reached an agreement," Edo said in a press release. “We are confident that before the end of the month we will come to a decision that it is best for both parties.”
Katusha general manager Viatcheslav Ekimov confirmed to Cyclingnews earlier this week that he had offered Rodríguez a new contract, despite the uncertain future of their sponsorship with Katusha. The team has secured the services of several other riders whose contracts were up for renewal at the end of the season, including Alexander Kristoff, who extended his tenure until 2017.
Rodríguez’s contract has been a topic of discussion since the end of last year and the Spaniard has said that he is keen to remain with the Russian team. Rodríguez and his management seem much happier with the latest offer and hope to have things wrapped up soon so that the 36-year-old can race at the Tour de France without the cloud of contract negotiations hanging over his head.
"They have improved their initial proposal and now we will evaluate it together with any other options. We are closer than in the Giro, yes, everyone has played their part but really we are still far from what we would like. We have moved closer but is not a final agreement,” Edo elaborated in an interview with Biciciclismo. "We have given them until the end of June, which is necessary for the two parties, so Joaquim can begin a quiet Tour de France and they could find a replacement in case he doesn’t continue."
Rodríguez has been with Katusha since the 2010 season, moving from Caisse d’Erpargne where he had been working as a domestique for Alejandro Valverde. Since then, he has scored four Grand Tour podium finishes, finished the season as the top rider in the WorldTour on three separate occasions, won two monuments and seven Grand Tour stages.
This season, Rodríguez has taken victory at the Vuelta al País Vasco and secured a podium finish at Liège-Bastogne-Liège. He is currently racing at the Dauphiné, where he lies 13th in the general classification. Next month, Rodríguez is set to lead Katusha’s general classification bid at the Tour de France, while Kristoff targets stages and the green jersey.