Thomas’ current contract with Team Sky runs out this season and the Welshman confirmed he faces one of the biggest decisions of his career as he decides between staying at Team Sky and sharing team leadership with Chris Froome or becoming the sole team leader with a rival WorldTour team.
CCC hope Thomas will agree to lead the team after announcing a merger with the remains of Jim Ochowicz’s BMC Racing set-up. CCC intends to become Poland’s first ever WorldTour team in 2019, with Greg van Avermaet already confirmed as leader for the Classics.
Team Sky are understandably keen to keep the 2018 Tour de France winner in their squad and have been in talks with Thomas’ agent.
“It’s just the value of the contract – it won’t go down, let’s just put it that way. People don’t have a problem paying for performance and neither do we,” team manager Dave Brailsford told The Times after the Tour de France ended in Paris.
CCC’s interest in signing Thomas first appeared in Polish news publication Przeglad Sportowy, and sports director Piotr Wadecki confirmed the news to Cyclingnews at the start of stage five of the Tour de Pologne.
“It’s true, we spoke with his manager and that’s true we gave the offer to Geraint,” Wadecki told Cyclingnews.
“We know his contract ends. Our team is concentrated on Greg Van Avermaet for the Classics and we are looking for a leader for the stage races like the Tour. So why not give an offer for Geraint?
“We’re wait for an answer. If it’s working, it’s okay. Our offer is on the table, and if he says yes, it’s really nice, and we can still hire two or three guys to help him in the stage races.”
Wadecki pointed out that Thomas would – if he signed – be the team’s sole GC leader for the Tour de France in 2019.
“That’s a really clear situation and that’s something,” Wadecki said. “I don’t know if that’s so clear in Team Sky [where four-time Tour de France winner Chris Froome is under contract until 2020 – ed.]”
Many of BMC Racing’s current team leaders are expected to leave the team after Ochowicz struggled to find a new sponsor to replace the BMC bike brand. He eventually convinced the billionaire CEO of the CCC shoe brand Dariusz Milek to merge his Professional Continental with the remains of the current BMC structure.
Tejay van Garderen confirmed his move to Team EF-Education First on Tuesday, and Richie Porte and Rohan Dennis are expected to ride for Trek-Segafredo and Bahrain-Merida, respectively, in 2019.
“The offer is on the table, we wait for an answer, it’s up to him to decide,” Wadecki said of Thomas.
“But I think we know in our team how to win the World Championships, we known how to win the Tour de France because Jim Ochowicz with BMC has won both. Also they’ve had Richie Porte for a few years, they know how to do the altitude training camps, how to prepare their leader for the big races. So we will see.”
Wadecki also told Cyclingnews that the new CCC team is likely to create a development Continental squad with under-23 riders based in Poland. The new-look CCC WorldTour squad will have its main service course in Poland, with a satellite base in Belgium.
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Alasdair Fotheringham has been reporting on cycling since 1991. He has covered every Tour de France since 1992 as well as numerous other bike races of all shapes and sizes, ranging from the Olympic Games in 2008 to the now sadly defunct Subida a Urkiola hill climb in Spain. Apart from working for Cyclingnews.com, he is also the cycling correspondent for The Independent and The Independent on Sunday.
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