The situation between André Greipel and the management at Lotto Soudal appears to be deteriorating after the German told Cyclingnews that he had been offered a two-year deal by the team but that he was not happy with the terms. The sprinter, whose contract expires at the end of the season, refuted team manager Paul De Geyter's earlier claim that no offer had been made. The pair are scheduled to meet at the Tour de Suisse on Friday.
On Tuesday, De Geyter told Cyclingnews that he had met with Greipel during the Spring and that they had discussed the future. However, the former rider agent added that no contract had been put forward. On the same day, Lotto Soudal were linked heavily to Mitchelton-Scott's Caleb Ewan, with speculation mounting that the Australian would move teams in the winter. De Geyter admitted that he had talked to Ewan's agent but once again stressed that a contract had not been offered.
On Wednesday morning, at the start of stage 5 of the Tour de Suisse, Greipel agreed to talk to Cyclingnews outside the Lotto Soudal team bus.
"The latest situation is that I've been negotiating with the team. I have an offer but I'm not happy with the offer. They gave me an offer, but quite an unfair offer," Greipel told Cyclingnews.
When Cyclingnews pointed out that De Geyter had told the site 24 hours earlier that no offer had been made, the German responded in a calm but strong manner.
"He said he didn't give an offer? Then he was lying… I hope he will come on Friday. It was a two-year [offer] but if he says there's no offer then probably there's no offer. I'm surprised that he said this. I got an offer, and that's all I can say," Greipel said.
The quotes from De Geyter were then read to Greipel, now with the Lotto Soudal press officer in attendance. De Geyter had said: "There are two things. I need to think about the team for the upcoming years. I hope that André will stay on the level that he can be the number one sprinter but I wouldn't be a good manager if I didn't think that maybe if there was a problem that we had an alternative.
"I'd love him to stay as the number one sprinter for sure. We still need to talk figures. I've not offered him a deal at all, we've just talked about the future and how we see things. We had a really good talk around April and we both discussed the future but we decided to take some time and we're going to meet in Switzerland."
Lotto Soudal looked to diffuse the situation by proposing that the offer may have been in principal rather than writing. Greipel, however, was clearly surprised. He has been with Lotto Soudal since 2011 and arguably been the team's figurehead, leader and talisman in the years since. His record in Grand Tours is exceptional and despite the fact that he will turn 36 in July, he has won six races this season. He added that his desire would be to stay at Lotto, a team that he has called home for several seasons.
"Then I'm really disappointed. I would love to stay. I'm quite the same. I've won four races in two weeks, even if they were small races," Greipel said. "The numbers are still the same and the watts are the same. I don't see myself dropping in my performances."
Greipel's hope is that a two-year deal is presented and that the rest of the terms match his ambitions, although he acknowledged that his is closer to the end of his career than the start.
"I have to look for possibilities. A two-year deal is something safe, especially when you saw what can happen this year. I crashed and was out for nearly three months. When you have a one-year deal it's not easy," Greipel said.
"Time is passing and you get older and you confronted with things like this. You're not getting young and I get that the team want to invest in younger riders. At some stage my career will be over, and it's not nice to have a spot free without having a sprinter.
As for the rumours revolving Ewan, Greipel was nothing but complimentary.
"It's all just rumours but for sure Caleb is a nice guy though. With a lot of potential for the future."