After reports linking Chris Froome with a move from Team Sky to BMC Racing were quickly denied by all involved, Cyclingnews can reveal that the three-time Tour de France winner is in the latter stages of negotiations with Team Sky over his next two-year contract to take him to 2020.
Froome has been with Team Sky since their 2010 inception and signed his current contract in 2016. The deal expires at the end of 2018, at which point he will be 33.
On Thursday, L'Equipe ran a story that Froome was unhappy with Team Sky and BMC would swoop for the Tour rider with funding coming from a secondary sponsor. The last months have certainly contained negative press for Team Sky surrounding Bradley Wiggins' TUE use, parliamentary hearings in which medical staff and Dave Brailsford were heavily criticised by members of the British Parliament, and possible reputational damage to the team after Damian Collins MP stated that Team Sky's and British Cycling's reputations were in tatters.
However, Cyclingnews understands that the Team Sky board, which includes James Murdoch, are keen to keep Froome and tie him down for the future. BMC have denied making an approach. and the 5 million Euro salary L'Equipe reported, while it's understood that Froome already commands a salary of that nature and that negotiations with Team Sky are at a point where he needs to only agree to a salary with Dave Brailsford before re-signing.
A source close to Team Sky told Cyclingnews that a new deal could be agreed by the start of the Tour de France on July 1. It's understood that Ian Stannard has already agreed to terms to re-sign and it's already well-known that Geraint Thomas has an option for 2018 on the table.
While the BMC link was quickly denied by all concerned, the reality is that few teams have the finances or the infrastructure to support Froome. His salary aside, any move would also involve the transfer of several possible support riders and staff. BMC Racing may have deep pockets, but they've yet to even announce their future beyond 2017, and earlier this week Jim Ochowicz confirmed to Cyclingnews that team owner Andy Rhis is suffering with health issues. The team already have Richie Porte on their books and although the Australian is out of contract – along with the majority of BMC riders – indications are that he will stay with the team if they continue.
When Cyclingnews asked Porte about the rumoured move the Australian admitted he was surprised.
"I don't know anything about it," Porte said. "All I know is the line in L'Equipe, but it's the first I've heard about it. In cycling there are a lot of rumours, maybe it's another one."