Speaking to Het Laatste Nieuws, Evenepoel did not reveal where his future lies, despite that decision being a critical factor in the outcome of any takeover.
Evenepoel reportedly had talks with the Jumbo-Visma team management last week and Ineos Grenadiers are keen to sign him to bolster their Grand Tour ambitions. However, if Patrick Lefevere manages to create a ‘remnant team’ from the ashes of Soudal-QuickStep after the takeover and retains the current WorldTour licence, Evenepoel would be under contract, making it far more difficult for him to leave.
Evenepoel is in Italy to ride Il Lombardia on Saturday and appeared to share the frustration of teammate Ilan Van Wilder, who said “We don’t agree with all this shit, and we want to continue Soudal-QuickStep” after winning the Tre Valli Varesine on Tuesday.
“We just don’t know anything,” Evenepoel told HLN in a video interview.
“I only know what you know, what you write. At the moment there are only question marks, for everyone. All we can do is wait. And hope it turns out well. We cannot estimate what will come our way in the next ten days or two weeks.”
The UCI made it clear that the teams involved in the merger must respect rider and staff contracts and the rules of governance. They also made it clear that riders in a team that has been taken over by another team are only free from any existing contracts after October 19, when the UCI issues a press release of the list of teams that have submitted the essential information for 2024 registration.
Evenepoel also appears to understand the UCI rules and knows that the rider transfer window is officially open until December 31. However, he and everyone else in this traumatic saga clearly want clarity as soon as possible.
“You can and are allowed to sign anywhere until December 31,” Evenepoel said. “So there is no rush, the winter is still long. But on the other hand, it isn’t. Everyone wants to know what will happen to Soudal Quick-Step as quickly as possible. It’s almost the holidays, in that sense the unanswered questions are definitely not nice.”
Evenepoel and his Soudal-QuickStep teammates will try to put aside their concerns about the future and focus on Saturday’s Il Lombardia. He will take on Tadej Pogacar (UAE Team Emirates) and Primoz Roglic…