AG2R La Mondiale team leader Romain Bardet has been linked with a future move to German squad Team Sunweb, according to reports in Dutch media. The team are the prime suitors for the 29-year-old in 2021, with several other teams also interested.
Sunweb's Grand Tour leader Tom Dumoulin left for Jumbo-Visma last winter, and young GC talent Sam Oomen could also be heading for the exit. That would leave a gap in the roster for a lead climber at the young squad, which Bardet looks to be the front runner for, according to De Telegraaf.
The Dutch newspaper reported that team boss Iwan Spekenbrink has already submitted and offer to Bardet, one of the top climbers on the market this off-season. Trek-Segafredo and Mitchelton-Scott are reportedly among the other teams interested in the Frenchman, who has been with AG2R since turning pro there in 2012.
"Yes, Romain is interested in going elsewhere, but nothing is recorded. Neither with Sunweb, nor with other teams," Bardet's agent Joona Laukka told De Telegraaf. "It's quite easy to write down the names of the teams he might go to. They are teams with a strong ethic, even if you can never be 100 per cent sure of all the riders."
Team boss Vincent Lavenu is expected to offer the two-time Tour de France podium finisher a new contract, but he said that he understands Bardet's desire to look elsewhere, too.
"Romain was in our development squad in Chambéry. He grew with us and helped us grow," Lavenu told L'Equipe. "I consider that our story isn't over yet. There are still some very beautiful pages to be written together.
"But I understand that after two difficult years he wants to look at what is being offered to him from elsewhere."
Bardet will return to the Tour de France this year, having originally been down for the Giro d'Italia before COVID-19 drastically altered the 2020 season. The Frenchman has also expressed an interest in tackling Paris-Roubaix and the Tour of Flanders for the first time, with both races coming in late October in the revised calendar.
Bardet is among the biggest stars on the market this winter, when the likes of Chris Froom and the Yates brothers are also out of contract. Take a look at the 10 biggest stars on the transfer market here.
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