Lefevere: Keeping Alaphilippe comes down to money

Patrick Lefevere has made Julian Alaphilippe a contract offer but the Belgian team boss is still none the wiser as to whether the French rider will stay with Deceuninck-QuickStep beyond 2019. Alaphilippe has been linked with a big-money transfer to Total Direct Energie for 2020, with the French team significantly increasing their budget after Total came on as a sponsor earlier this year.

Lefevere has a fight on his hands to keep a number of high-profile riders, with Alaphilippe, Elia Viviani and Enric Mas among those on the transfer market for next year.

Alaphilippe, in particular, has enjoyed a remarkable start to the season with eight wins already, including victories in La Flèche Wallonne, Milan-San Remo, Strade Bianche and two stages in Tirreno-Adriatico. He is currently training for the Critérium du Dauphiné and the Tour de France, where last year he won two stages and the King of the Mountains competition.

“I sent a proposition to Alaphilippe’s agent at the Tour of California and I hope to have news in the coming days,” Lefevere told Cyclingnews.

“I don’t know if he will stay, but of course I hope it. It’s all about money.”

While Lefevere fights to keep his star-studded squad together he also has one eye on a number of his current core of support riders. Reports in Italy have linked Maximiliano Richeze with a move to UAE Team Emirates for next year, with the Argentine rider possibly linking up with Fernando Gaviria – another former Lefevere rider. Richeze was an integral part of Gaviria’s lead-out last year and while Lefevere is keen to keep the experienced rider, he is aware that finances will ultimately dictate and decisions.

“We’re still talking to him. He wanted a two-year contract and I have some thoughts on that because he is 36. Of course, he’s still a very good rider and I don’t think that he’s over. Also, it’s not that I only like the rider; I also like Max as a person. I can’t give someone a contract just because I like them.”

One rider unlikely to ride for Lefevere next is year Marcel Kittel. The German had his contract with Katusha-Alpecin annulled in May and is set to take an indefinite break from racing. Kittel spent two successful seasons riding for Lefevere between 2016 and 2017 but Lefevere told Cyclingnews that there had been no contact between himself and Kittel over reuniting in 2020.

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