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Bernie Eisel denies “outsider” Cian Uijtdebroeks was bullied at Bora-hansgrohe, despite claims to the contrary in the Dutch media (Photos: Luis Gomez, Pauline Ballet)

Bora-hansgrohe has strongly denied Cian Uijtdebroeks, who signed for the team aged 18 years, was bullied at any time during his two seasons at the German World Tour squad.

Directeur sportif Bernie Eisel was asked about claims that appeared in the Dutch media – including that some people within Bora-hansgrohe set up a WhatsApp group to gossip about Uijtdebroeks during La Vuelta. The Austrian said the team completely denied those reports.

The questions were put to Eisel, as a representative of management at Bora-hansgrohe, after Dutch journalist Thijs Zonneveld, in ‘In het Wiel’ podcast, claimed sources had told him Uijtdebroeks did not fit in at the German team and was bullied as a result.

“Several sources say that Uijtdebroeks was something of an outsider at Bora,” Zonneveld said. “He was treated like a kind of nerd by other riders, but also by team leaders. That was because he was very fanatical about certain things.

“He was weighing his diet, he didn’t think his time trial bike was aerodynamic enough, he didn’t think his clothing was good enough, so he bought different socks himself.

“He was like someone in high school who got an ‘A’ because he studied well, only to be told, ‘Oh, you got an ‘A’ again?!’ For example, during the Vuelta, there was also an ‘anti-Cian’ app group, without himself in it, so they could gossip about him. It’s really too childish. He didn’t feel at home in that team at all.”

However, on behalf of Bora-hansgrohe, Eisel strongly refuted those claims. “100 per cent I can deny that,” he told GCN. “Definitely not. Especially from my side, and the riders’ side.

“He had a team that looked after him, Aleksandr Vlasov had his team that looked after him and, from my point of view, they did an incredible job to protect him. We did everything we could for him. I have to deny that one. It’s that simple. 100 per cent no.”

The claims, and strong team denial, come as Bora-hansgrohe is insisting Uijtdebroeks is still one of its riders, until the end of next year, even though Visma-Lease a Bike claims it has signed him. Uijtdebroeks and his agent believe he ended his contract with Bora-hansgrohe on December 1st.

However, while Visma-Lease a Bike last Saturday issued a statement claiming it had signed Uijtdebroeks, Bora-hansgrohe hit back immediately, saying the rider was still on its books.

Media reports in the Netherlands suggest Bora-hansgrohe wants Visma-Lease a Bike to pay a €1 million buy-out, even though Uijtdebroeks was only earning about €100,000 per year.

Eisel said the dispute – which has already morphed into a legal wrangle – will likely end up in the courts.

“There’s not much I can say about it. We have our statement that he’s under contract with us and Jumbo have said they’ve signed him,” Eisel said. “It will come down to court. That’s where we are at the moment.”

Meanwhile, Uijtdebroeks has joined Visma-Lease a Bike at its training camp in Denía, Spain, and ignored the Bora-hansgrohe camp in Mallorca.

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