Cyclingnews understands that Peter Sagan is close to deciding which team he will ride for in 2015.
The Slovakian sprinter is expected to choose between Tinkoff-Saxo and Cannondale before the start of this year's Tour de France, with his final choice depending on the financial aspects of any deal and the strength of the team that will be built around him so he can target the Spring Classics and the points jersey at the Tour de France.
Under UCI rules, riders cannot sign contracts until August 1 but Cyclingnews understands that the final pieces of a complex operation are close to falling into place.
It seems that the doubts about Fernando Alonso's team have led to Sagan ending contract talks with the Formula One pilot's technical consultant Paolo Bettini.
Sagan is at the centre of this year's transfer market, with his final decision having profound effects on the future of several teams.
Sagan is enjoying another successful season with Cannondale and recently won a stage at the Tour of California after winning E3 Harelbeke, finishing third at Gent-Wevelgem and sixth at Paris-Roubaix after a brave solo attack. He is still only 24 but is already considered one of the stars of the sport.
The future of the Cannondale team was in doubt last year but Cyclingnews understands the team intends to remain in the WorldTour in 2015.
With only a handful of riders under contract for 2015, Cannondale is likely to be registered in the USA next year and take advantage of more favourable contract and tax laws.
Cannondale told Cyclingnews that it intends to have a highly-competitive team in 2015 and is making a determined effort to convince Sagan to stay with them for the long-term future.
Cannondale confirmed that it has made Sagan what it considers an excellent offer and said it's now up to him to decide his future.
Tinkov ready to spend his personal wealth
Oleg Tinkov has made it clear that he also wants Sagan in his team for 2015 and seems ready to use his personal wealth to secure Sagan's signature. Bike sponsor Specialized would also like to see Sagan ride their bikes rather than Cannondale and is fully supportive of the team's offer.
Tinkoff-Saxo has a strong stage race squad led by Alberto Contador but needs to rebuild its Classics team. Sagan would fill that role perfectly with other riders also likely to be signed to support him.
Team managers Bjarne Riis and Stefano Feltrin are responsible for team strategy, but Feltrin declined to comment when contacted by Cyclingnews.
Sagan's agent Giovanni Lombardi also declined to comment about Sagan's future. He claimed to have halted all negotiations in the spring while Sagan was focused on the Classics but was at the Tour of California last week.
He told Cyclingnews that Sagan will remain in the USA for two weeks to train at altitude, returning to Europe to ride the Tour de Suisse as his final preparation race for the Tour de France, where he will target stage victories and the a third consecutive green points jersey.
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