Ineos Grenadiers are reportedly exploring a move for Remco Evenepoel, with Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl team principal Patrick Lefevere and the Belgian sensation’s father refusing to dampen the speculation.
Evenepoel became the youngest road race world champion in 29 years in Wollongong, Australia last week to complete a stellar season that has also yielded victories at Liege-Bastogne-Liege and La Vuelta.
It is Evenepoel’s credentials at Grand Tours that are said to interest Ineos, with VeloNews claiming their billionaire owner Jim Ratcliffe is “desperate to land a potential Tour de France winner who can deliver immediate success”.
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Lefevere said Ineos chief Dave Brailsford sent him a message after Evenepoel’s win at La Vuelta which hinted at a move for the 22-year-old.
“It's simple,” Lefevere told VeloNews. “Dave Brailsford texted me, and he doesn't text much. He said, ‘Congratulations, what a champion, and if you want to sell him one day, give me a call.’ That was it. No more and no less."
When asked whether Brailsford might have been joking, Lefevere continued: “You can't see if someone is joking on WhatsApp. There was no smiley, no special face. Just a few words. Other colleagues just congratulated me, but if Dave wants him he probably needs a lot of money.”
Any move for Evenepoel would be expensive as he is contracted until 2026, but the report says Ineos are hoping to swoop “with immediate effect”.
Ineos are without an obvious GC leader capable of challenging Jonas Vingegaard (Jumbo-Visma) and Tadej Pogacar (UAE Team Emirates) at the Tour de France, the race they so desperately want to win again.
Egan Bernal is still a big unknown as he fights back from a life-threatening crash in his native Colombia, Geraint Thomas was a distant third at the 2022 Tour and Carlos Rodriguez faded at his debut Grand Tour after initial promise.

Highlights: All the action from a dramatic men's road race as Evenepoel takes title

Evenepoel’s father Patrick, who also acts as his agent, said that Ineos first considered signing his son three years ago.
On recent contact with the team, Evenepoel Sr. told VeloNews: “There was no meeting but we had a phone conversation with them.
“We have been in contact with them and I know Messrs Brailsford and [deputy team principal Rod] Ellingworth.
“We've known each other for years. It is normal that they call me to congratulate me on the Vuelta overall victory and after Liege-Bastogne-Liege.”
So is a deal to land Evenepoel for 2023 in the works?
“I don't know,” says Evenepoel Sr.
“Remco has a five-year contract with Quick-Step-Alpha Vinyl. It's not up to me to talk. We want to celebrate the Vuelta and the World Cup, and we'll see what happens in the future."
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