Ivan Sosa is one step closer to joining forces with fellow Colombian Egan Bernal at Team Sky for 2019, with Androni Giocattoli team manager Gianni Savio confirming to Cyclingnews that he is ready to release Sosa from his contract in exchange for an agreed 'premio di valorizzazione' or 'development bonus' from Team Sky.
The 20-year-old climber has been at the centre of a transfer dispute since the summer after he backtracked on an agreement with Trek-Segafredo and broke his agreement with rider agent Paolo Alberati and former world champion Maurizio Fondriest.
They are convinced Sosa was still under contract with them when he agreed terms with Trek-Segafredo, but Sosa never signed the contract with the US-registered WorldTour team. He is now represented by rival agent Giuseppe Acquadro, who has close links to Team Sky and manages the interests of Bernal, Michal Kwiatkowski and others.
Alberati and Fondriest have protested to the UCI in an attempt to force Sosa to respect his contract with them and so that Acquadro is punished for tampering with their rider. Acquadro has denied any wrongdoing and claims that Sosa's agreement with Alberati and Fondriest had expired.
There is no regulated transfer system in professional cycling to help smaller teams gain financially for development work they do with riders. However, Savio, as he looks to maintain his Italian-based Pro Continental team, is trying to make a profit from his investment in young Colombian riders by including several financial clauses in his contracts.
Savio earned a reported 350,000 Euro after Bernal moved from Androni Giocattoli to Team Sky for the 2018 season. Savio has carefully avoided speaking out on Sosa's future until now and told Cyclingnews he had always acted correctly.
"I understand Ivan will ride for Team Sky in 2019. That means I'll pay back the development bonus I got from Trek-Segafredo in the summer and I'll be paid another development bonus from Team Sky," Savio told Cyclingnews with satisfaction, knowing he is set to earn more than the reported 120,000 Euro he obtained from Trek-Segafredo.
"Androni Giocattoli has always operated correctly. We put the 'development bonus' in the contracts of the riders we help develop because we think it's fair that our work is valued," Savio said. "I think everyone benefits: the rider who steps up to WorldTour level, his new team and of course the Androni Giocattoli team."
Sosa is expected to agree to a three-year contract with Team Sky and earn significantly more than he was originally offered by Trek-Segafredo in the summer. Savio insists his 'development bonus' is always a percentage of the rider's new contract and so will enjoy another end-of-season bonus after helping Sosa turn professional in 2017 and helping him win the Adriatica Ionica Race, the Sibiu Cycling Tour and the Vuelta a Burgos.
Sosa is close friends with Bernal and is expected to play a key support role in his compatriot's development in the years ahead as Bernal targets success in Grand Tours. Bernal could lead Team Sky at the 2019 Giro d'Italia after helping Geraint Thomas and Chris Froome at the 2018 Tour de France.