Patrick Lefevere has already made clear he isn't in a position to look to sign Chris Froome, but even if he was, the Deceuninck-QuickStep manager doesn't believe the four-time Tour de France winner represents a worthwhile investment.
Writing in his column for Belgian newspaper Het Nieuwsblad (opens in new tab), Lefevere cited Froome's 35 years of age and his belief - although it's not accurate - that Froome's wife is his agent.
Froome is out of contract at the end of the year and, as revealed by Cyclingnews last month, is considering a move away from Team Ineos, possibly even this season. Negotiations are ongoing and a decision is expected before the end of the month.
"I'm not going to speak for anyone else here, but personally I wouldn't invest in a project around Froome anymore. Respect for his palmarès, but will he still win the Tour at the age of 35?
"What would also concern me with Froome: his manager is his wife Michelle Cound. Not that I would immediately turn it into an deal-breaker, but that kind of collaboration only causes misery. For Abraham Olano's contract, you had to pass through Mapei through his wife at the time.
"The same goes for brothers who act as agents. That was the case with Oscar Freire and Alberto Contador. At QuickStep we once sat around the table with his brother Fran Contador. Alberto himself was not present, but Fran had invited a lawyer. That conversation was not about anything, because one did not speak English and the other did not speak French. I found that shameful for Frans De Cock, who is used to doing business at a high level. Alberto Contador never rode for our team and I have never regretted it."
The team that appears to be leading the chase for Froome's signature is Israel Start-Up Nation, and Lefevere also used his column to reveal how their owners had come close to taking over his QuickStep team.
Israel Start-Up Nation graduated to the WorldTour this year after taking over the folding Katusha-Alpecin team's licence, but were keen to do so even earlier. In 2018 Lefevere met twice in London with owner Sylvan Adams to plan a takeover deal, which, was shelved as new sponsorship was found from Deceuninck.
"We were very close to a deal - not to say it was as good as done. There was an agreement on the amount of the takeover, on the bicycle manufacturer, on the riders and the team management. I myself could stay on board for at least three more years. Only because we still found a sponsor with Deceuninck, that project was cancelled," Lefevere wrote.
"Those conversations then all went in the utmost secrecy, with official confidentiality agreements even. Such an acquisition is a delicate matter, as the story of Mitchelton-Scott and the Manuela Fundación proves.
"I got to know Adams as a very ambitious man, with the financial scope to make his plans come true. He wants to get to the top of cycling as quickly as possible. For the time being - without wanting to be too negative - it is still a kind of gathering together. There is no clear identity yet, no project. I don't think you will immediately find a 'home' there if you sign a contract there as a rider."
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