Offers flow in for Meintjes as Project TJ Sport's future remains uncertain

According to his agent Louis Meintjes has already been approached by at least two WorldTour teams with regards to his future should the TJ Sport team - known as Lampre-Merida this season - fail to gain a UCI license.

The Chinese squad's future remains uncertain due to questions surrounding their funding for next season and they have a deadline of December 15 to meet with the UCI if they are to prove themselves as a legitimate outfit. Should they fail to do so Meintjes, Rui Costa and Ben Swift will be among the riders scrambling for contracts.

"As it stands right now, if they don't get the WorldTour licence it's a problem," Meintjes' agent, Robbie Hunter told Cyclingnews.

"It's a problem for the riders, the team in essence, and Louis. We are lucky enough that there's been a few enquiries if things don't go the right way with the team for next year. There are certain options but nothing is concrete at this time but there have been basic enquires."

Meintjes was second best young rider in the Tour de France this season and eighth overall, and finished top 10 in the Criterium du Dauphine and seventh in the Olympic Games Road race. It should come as little surprise that the two teams who have opened discussions with Hunter over Meintjes' future are Dimension Data and the Bahrain Merida team.

Meintjes rode for Dimension Data – then known as MTN-Qhubeka – between 2013 and 2015 but he moved to Lampre in 2016 in order to link up with Brent Copeland, a previous manager at MTN. Copeland tried to bring Meintjes with him to Bahrain Merida but the South African rider was unable to move after TJ Sport took over his existing two-year deal with Lampre. However, should TJ Sport fail to register in time, Meintjes will be able to sign for another team.

"I'm sure you can guess them if need be, but Dimension Data and Bahrain are two. There are a couple of others as well," Hunter told Cyclingnews.

For now Hunter is remaining calm but after TJ Sport cancelled a December team training camp alarms bells started to ring. The team's clothing has yet to be made and Colnago bikes are still with the manufacturers as the first WorldTour race of 2017 looms just over a month away.

"They've not been forthcoming with any information, which doesn't bode well or fill anyone with a massive amount of confidence," added Hunter.

"I understand that people need to keep things behind the scenes to make sure that things are run properly but in most scenarios you want to give people as much information as possible in order to keep them calm and help them realise that the team is on the right track.

"At this point in time, the way I read it is that they're scratching around to try and make amends and I'm getting very little feedback. I've tried to contact them several times and I've had little feedback. That doesn't quite cut it."

"The 15th of December is no time to be running around and telling riders to find jobs. The matter is being compounded day by day."

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