Team Sunweb manager Iwan Spekenbrink has said that he is "surprised" by reports linking Tom Dumoulin with an imminent move away from the team but confirmed that he will meet with the rider's agent next week. Jumbo-Visma manager Richard Plugge declined to address reports that Dumoulin could join his squad in 2020.
Dumoulin has a contract with Sunweb until the end of the 2021 season, but De Telegraaf and AD reported on Wednesday that the Dutchman could seek to extricate himself from the deal and move to another team. In a statement to De Telegraaf, however, Dumoulin said: "A change is currently out of the question."
"The stories in the newspaper also surprised me," Spekenbrink said at Sunweb's pre-Tour press conference in Valkenburg on Wednesday, according to NOS. "We were called about it last night, and this morning it was in the newspaper. Next week we are invited for a discussion by the management of Dumoulin. We first have to wait and see."
AD reported that Dumoulin's likely destination is Jumbo-Visma and suggested that he was dissatisfied with Sunweb's recruitment policy and their handling of the knee injury that ruled him out of this year's Tour de France.
Dumoulin abandoned the Giro d'Italia after crashing in Frascati on stage 4. He returned to action at the Critérium du Dauphiné but left the race to undergo surgery on his injured knee. Four days later, he announced that he would be unable to participate in the Tour. It is expected that Dumoulin will target the Vuelta a Espana and Worlds time trial in the latter part of the season.
"A lot has happened of course," Spekenbrink said. "We have been under a lot of stress, experienced many disappointments. For the time being, nothing is going on. We don't want to respond to this via the media, but with Tom himself. We assume that we will have a regular conversation next week."
Dumoulin still has two-and-a-half years left on his contract, meaning that it would be a costly exercise to extricate him from his deal with Sunweb unless an agreement can be brokered. Spekenbrink has previously reached agreements to allow Marcel Kittel and Warren Barguil to leave his team before their contracts expired.
De Telegraaf cited Team Ineos, CCC Team, UAE Team Emirates and Total Direct Energie among Dumoulin's possible suitors, but Dutch squad Jumbo-Visma have been most heavily linked with signing the 2017 Giro winner. Jumbo-Visma are the successor to the old Rabobank set-up, where Dumoulin spent a season as a Continental rider in 2011 before turning professional with Argos-Shimano (now Team Sunweb) the following year.
"I am not participating in a national discussion that is apparently going on now," Jumbo-Visma manager Richard Plugge told NOS at his team's pre-Tour press event in Ossendrecht. "If [Dumoulin becomes available], then let's take a look. For now, it's still something between him and his team."
Jumbo-Visma sprinter Dylan Groenewegen told reporters that he would welcome Dumoulin's arrival at the team. Steven Kruijswijk, who will lead Jumbo-Visma's GC challenge at the Tour, told AD: "'m thinking about the next three weeks and this Tour. It is not something that distracts me. What comes next year will come next year."
Dumoulin's agent, Rik van Dongen, meanwhile, confirmed to Dutch website Wielerflits that he will hold talks with Sunweb next week. "For the sake of clarity: there is no transfer agreement with another party on the table," Van Dongen said on Wednesday. "A meeting with Iwan Spekenbrink is planned for next week. Then we will know more. To be continued."
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