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Cian Uijtdebroeks pushes on during stage 20 at La Vuelta and now he is at the centre of a major battle between Bora-hansgrohe and Visma-Lease a Bike (Photo: Luis Angel Gomez-Sprint Cycling Agency)

Cian Uijtdebroeks may be just 20-years-old but he is now at the centre of a tug of war between Bora-hansgrohe and Visma-Lease a Bike, which has a reported €1 million price tag attached.

That figure is close to 10 times the salary the young Belgian has been paid by Bora-hansgrohe over the last two years. Bora-hansgrohe can push for that settlement sum because its contract with Uijtdebroeks runs until the end of next year and he can only sign for Visma-Lease a Bike if the German team agrees to release him.

Respected Dutch media outlet, Wielerflits, has reported Bora-hansgrohe is seeking the €1 million pay day, even though it was paying Uijtdebroeks not much more than one tenth of that per year. The team signed him straight from the junior ranks when he had very little bargaining power.

Journalist Raymond Kerckhoffs, who also broke the story of the Jumbo-Visma and Soudal QuickStep merger talks, has reported Visma-Lease a Bike was willing to pay Bora-hansgrohe the equivalent of what Uijtdebroeks would have been paid by the German team next year.

However, that appears to have been rejected. And now Bora-hansgrohe is seeking the much higher sum, having yesterday denied it had released Uijtdebroeks from his contract even though Visma-Lease a Bike announced it had signed the Belgian rider.

The dispute comes after Primož Roglič broke his contract with Visma-Lease a Bike to transfer to Bora-hansgrohe, with a fee of €3 million said to have been paid. However, not all of that sum was paid by Bora-hansgrohe, with Roglič himself agreeing a deal with Visma-Lease a Bike allowing him to leave mid-contract.

It appears Uijtdebroeks and his agents, AEJ Allsports, believe they terminated the rider’s contract with Bora-hansgrohe on December 1st by paying them what Uijtdebroeks would have received in the final year of his deal in 2024.

They informed the UCI and believed they were free to sign with Visma-Lease a Bike, which they did, with that deal announced by the Dutch team on Saturday evening. However, less than two hours later, Bora-hansgrohe issued its own statement, saying Uijtdebroeks would remain one of its riders until the end of next season. The matter is now at the centre of a legal process.

The 20-year-old – a Tour de l’Avenir winner last year and 8th overall in La Vuelta in September – had been critical of Bora-hansgrohe several times in his recent public comments and it was clear he wanted to leave the team.

During the Vuelta, when trying to gain placings in the top 10, he said it would be difficult because “the competition comes from my own team, as we have seen in previous stages”.

He added: “Hopefully everyone is correct and we don’t do anything stupid. It would be stupid to let João Almeida gain another place because (Aleksandr) Vlasov would attack me.”

More recently, after he suffered issues with his bike and spare bike at the Chrono des Nations TT, he said “there is always something to do with the material at Bora”, adding “I came here to learn, but it would be nice if my bikes were in order”.

He also complained his TT position was very poor and blamed the team, saying: “Riders like Evenepoel and Ayuso have a CDA (coefficient of aerodynamic drag) of 1.5. I’m at 1.9 to 2.0. I just lose minutes with that. The planning for this winter has yet to be drawn up. But it seems obvious to me that there is work waiting for the team.”

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