Bauke Mollema is the first of the Belkin riders to be linked to a new team. According to Dutch newspaper De Telegraaf, Mollema's agent has been in contact with Tinkoff-Saxo about a potential move to the team for next season.
"I was called the same day to see if I was interested in Mollema," team owner Oleg Tinkov told the newspaper. While he was interested in the rider who finished sixth in last year's Tour de France, he wasn't happy with the offer that was being put on the table. "He is definitely a good rider, but the amount being asked is too high. If a decent proposal comes, I would be interested," he continued.
"The same applies to Wilco Kelderman. He is a great talent that I would like to have, best in the squad. But most of the agents who call me think that I am a stupid Russian who will take anything on the table. But I'm not that stupid, otherwise I wouldn't have so much money."
Belkin's recent departure as a sponsor has thrown a grenade into the transfer market, with 30 riders unexpectedly becoming available. Several riders, including Mollema, had penned long-term deals with the Belkin team but could find themselves without a team.
Mollema's agent Martijn Berkhout, who also looks after Sep Vanmarcke, told Cyclingnews on Monday that he wasn't prepared to wait and see if his riders would be saved by a new sponsor.
This morning Berkhout told Cyclingnews, "Mollema is at the end of his contract and every team knows that. And every WorldTour team with ambition know his status and there’s a lot of interest in signing him if things with Belkin’s sponsorship search don’t work out. It doesn’t surprise me at all that Tinkov is interested."
The Tour de France begins in just over two weeks time and is a key time for new deals to be made. Mollema will be at the race as a team leader for Belkin but, if there isn't a new sponsor on the horizon, he could be racing for a new contract too. Mollema is currently riding at the Tour de Suisse, where he lies fourth in the general classification.
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