Tom Jelte Slagter signed a contract with Garmin-Sharp this summer, and the Dutchman has said that he left Team Belkin partly because he was not invited to ride the Tour de France.
“There was a new two-year contract for me,” Slagter told RTV Noord. “They added that if I didn’t sign I would not ride the Tour de France. But I won’t be blackmailed.”
The 24-year-old Slagter won his first professional race at the Tour Down Under earlier this year. Belkin – then operating as Team Blanco – was anxious to keep the former Dutch Under-23 champion and fourth-place finisher at the Tour de l’Avenir on board but Slagter felt blackmailed.
“I had about a week to decide about a new two-year contract. That’s not a very long time to think about your imminent future. If I didn’t sign, I would not be on the Tour de France team. But if it turns out to become some sort of blackmail, then no Tour. I won’t be blackmailed.”
The Tour de France was the most successful in years by the Dutch outfit, which was known as Rabobank until last season, with Bauke Mollema finishing sixth in the overall classification.
“Of course it was not nice at that moment not to be part of that team,” Slagter said.
Slagter had hoped for a good programme for the remainder of the year with a debut in the Vuelta a España.
“I would have loved to do other WorldTour races like the Vuelta but the team decided to take the sprinter’s team around Theo Bos to Spain,” he said.
Because of his Tour Down Under victory Slagter had several teams interest in securing his signature.
“Even before the Tour de France I had considered the teams I would go to. I felt Garmin-Sharp was the best choice,” he said.
Slagter doesn’t expect to ride the Tour de France next year.
“I do fall a bit short on the longer climbs and in the time trials to make for a good overall classification,” he admitted.