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The uncertain future of cyclists in the waiting room

The contracts of most Luxembourg cyclists expire at the end of the year. Not enough to make them panic, even if professional sport will not fail to be impacted by the covid-19 crisis either.

The contracts of most Luxembourg cyclists expire at the end of the year. Not enough to make them panic, even if professional sport will not fail to be impacted by the covid-19 crisis either.

(DH with Joe Geimer) – After the spring classics, the first rumors are emerging. During the Giro, they get thicker and the signatures are affixed to the bottom of the contracts at the beginning of the following year. But this year the game has changed. Covid-19 is invited to the negotiating table and shuffles the cards. This is how the majority of runners from an inactive peloton face an uncertain future. Luxembourg pros are no exception to the rule. All are in an almost identical situation. Jempy Drucker, Ben Gastauer, Kevin Geniets, Bob Jungels, Jan Petelin and Tom Wirtgen will see their training contract expire on December 31.

542 riders are under contract this year with World Tour teams and like the six Luxembourg professionals many of them do not yet know which jersey they will wear next year. At Ag2r-La Mondiale, for example, only ten of the 29 professionals, still under contract, are certain to drive for Vincent Lavenu, the boss of the team, in 2021. And forced inactivity due to the health crisis doesn’t is not likely to reassure Ben gastauer. “There are no races, so I can’t show what I’m worth at the moment. This is indeed a troubling period, ”said the Schifflangeois.

At 32, experience plays for him, but he admits that he would be “much calmer with a contract for 2021”. With the postponement of the Tokyo Games, Gastauer postponed his Olympic ambitions to next year “on condition” to be present in the peloton, and for that I have to sign a contract “.

Some leaders could be recruited for relatively little money

Whoever intended to shine in the Tour of Italy will have to count on participation in the Great Loop. The cycling showcase was moved at the end of August and many riders have made it their goal to win a precious sesame for 2021. For now, the Luxembourger who displays eleven years of professionalism is looking lucidly at the situation of the peloton . “Some teams may face serious financial difficulties and some leaders could enter the transfer market and be recruited for relatively little money,” he said. “It is certain, they will find an employer and, afterwards, the teams will complete their workforce with team members like me.”

Kevin Geniets has the advantage of having made a promising start to the season.

Photo: Serge Waldbillig

On the Deceuninck-Quick Step side, the Bob jungels, five of the 28 professionals officially have no contract for next year. The Luxembourger and the Belgian Yves Lampaert undoubtedly represent the two best elements of this quintet. But this does not augur a contract extension. Because Patrick Lefevere, the training manager, is known to hold the purse strings at best.

The Belgian does not hesitate to offload his team of his best elements to save money. This is how Philippe Gilbert (BEL), Elia Viviani (ITA), Niki Terpstra (CZE), Fernando Gaviria (COL) and Marcel Kittel (ALL) had, in turn, had to leave the most successful team of these last ten years. However, if his contract is not renewed, Jungels, who is armed on numerous grounds, should not have any difficulty in finding an employer.

Second long break for Drucker

In regards to Jempy Drucker (33), the third spearhead of Luxembourg cycling, the situation appears paradoxical. Indeed, for his second season with the German team Bora-hansgrohe, he finds himself again deprived of competition. As a reminder, in 2019, and following a fall which had caused him an injury to the cervical spine, he had to observe a four-month break. Following a convincing start to the season, on Omloop Het Nieuwsblad, Kuurne-Bruxelles-Kuurne and Paris-Nice, this time he found himself unemployed. His goal to hope to win a new two-year contract is to resume competition in August on the hats.

On the younger side, Kevin Geniets (23, Groupama-FDJ) seems to be better off. Fourth in the Etoile de Bessèges, he demonstrated that his performances last year were not the result of chance. “I felt very good physically at the start of the year and I confirmed it in the race,” he said. Anything other than an extension of the contract with the French team would be a surprise.

On the other hand, Tom wirtgen was unlucky at the start of the season. The result was a fall in Saudi Arabia followed by surgery on the right elbow. Now restored, the great runner from Bingoal-Wallonia (1.91m) is waiting to demonstrate his qualities. Finally, the situation of Jan Petelin (23) seems the most complex since he has not competed in any race this year and could not convince those in charge of the Vini Zabu-KTM team of the benefits of his recruitment. For him too, it is a matter of waiting, keeping fit, and, if the season starts again, convincing.

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