"It’s a goal because he’s a talented rider but our pockets aren’t as big as some other teams" - BORA - hansgrohe unsure if they can keep Cian Uijtdebroeks

Cian Uijtdebroeks is only 20 years old but already for several years he's been in the discussion of many World Tour team managers. BORA - hansgrohe managed to reel the talented Belgian in for his first years as a pro rider, but are unsure if they can keep him after 2024.

BORA - hansgrohe manager Ralph Denk talked with GCN, discussing first the possibility of making a Giro d'Italia debut in 2024. “For sure it could be but it’s not decided yet. It’s an ongoing discussion but in the next two weeks, we will decide," he said. "It could be an option to have him in the Giro and it could be an option to have him in the Vuelta. We have to figure out what’s best for him."

The team is yet to make it's plans but for the Belgian it is the logical next step. The team has slowly been inserting him in races of higher level and demand and he's proven himself on virtually all of them. After winning the Tour de l'Avenir in 2022, the Belgian finished on the Top10 of every single stage-race he completed in 2023. This included the Tour of Oman, Volta a Catalunya, Tour de Romandie and Tour de Suisse before his Grand Tour debut at the Vuelta a Espana. It was a new challenge but one where he performed very strongly, finishing eighth in the final classification and having a strong third week.

"Cian came from our under-19 team and has developed well on our team. I see a big benefit to having him on the team for the minimum of next year because he has a valid contract. If he leaves, I don’t know, but at the moment it’s not really on my table," Denk says. "Also, it’s proof for us that ten teams have shared with the press their offers. It’s proof that we’ve done a good job and found the right talent.”

There are no doubts on why Uijtdebroeks is such a highly wanted rider in the peloton. As new generations emerge stronger and stronger, many also look to sign big talents before they get fixed on long-term contracts with rival teams. A huge battle is ongoing for young talents in cycling, with riders as young as first year juniors already ending their season with a World Tour contract in the bank for the upcoming season.

“It’s a goal because he’s a talented rider but our pockets aren’t as big as some other teams," the manager of BORA - hansgrohe admits. The team dug deep into it's reserves to sign Primoz Roglic, with whom they hope to chase even better results. "We have to find a smart way. In my opinion, at the moment, he stays for 2024 because no other team is asking for us to let him go. If you look to the UCI rules you need a three-way agreement with the new team, existing team and the rider. And then the UCI. I don’t even have a draft offer on my table. Cian has a valid contract and I respect contracts."

However for 2025 it's not so sure. Uijtdebroeks has talked about how he felt teammate Aleksandr Vlasov was attacking his GC spot at the recent Vuelta a Espana, whilst he then again criticized the team's handling of his time-trial at the small Chrono des Nations event. The Belgian looks to perform in the Grand Tours and is not satisfied with how little effort has been put on his time-trialing position and equipment.

“I know the question you’re asking and for sure there was some blaming in the press from him in the direction of the team but we have our own strategy in this case and we won’t share that in the media," Denk says. These internal issues and outspoken nature of Uijtdebroeks have indicated to the outside world that he is not content within the team. With the entrance of another big leader in the team, it will most likely also hamper his space to grow within the team in the long-term.

"We’ll talk to him when the door is closed, we’ve done that already and maybe another talk is necessary in the next days or weeks. I will say that he’s a bit young and inexperienced and he jumped from the bike and talked to the press. I don’t think that he’ll repeat that again. But we’ve calmed that issue with him and we won’t share our input on that case," Denk concluded.

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