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"My personal feeling is that he'll stay. It would be great if he stay. I know that he has an offer from Etixx. We've not matched it as much but we can offer the complete programme that he wants."





26.08.2015 @ 21:27 Posted by Joseph Doherty

After losing Niccolo Bonifazio to Trek, Lampre-Merida look likely to lose Rafael Valls and Max Richeze, which means they are fighting to keep one of their three stars, Sacha Modolo, on the team next year, despite the offer of more money at Etixx-QuickStep.


"We're talking to a few riders but no big transfers have been made at this point. Obviously losing Bonifazio was a big disappointment but we're waiting on Modolo to confirm on what he wants to do. Once we know with him it will be clearer as to what we can do with our budget and how much budget we have," Lampre Merida's Brent Copeland told Cyclingnews.


After one of their targets, Ryder Hesjedal, signed for Trek, the team is belived to be closing in on Stefano Pirazzi and Andrea Guardini, who could replace Modolo. But Copeland says his gut reaction is that Modolo, who won two stages at the Giro this year, stays.


"My personal feeling is that he'll stay. He's Italian, which is something we need, and it would be great if he stay. I know that he has an offer from Etixx. We've not matched it as much but we can offer the complete programme that he wants. We're offering him a more complete package. I think it's 70-30 per cent that he'll stay, but that's just my personal feeling."


Valls has no contract for 2016, but seems to have confirmed his departure. He could be replaced by Pirazzi, a solid climber who can target GC in weeklong stage races.


"I don't know if [Valls] put pen to paper yet but it look like he will be leaving. That's is unfortunate for us. I can understand, because he's had a fantastic season and he has offers. I don't know where he will go, and his agent hasn't told me.”


Lampre-Merida are also looking to sign Pierre Rolland, but that deal is looking less likely as he prefers either to stay at Europcar or to join Cannondale-Garmin.


"We were speaking to Rolland until the end of last week. For us he's a really interesting rider and someone who can go after GC at the Tour de France. His image is great and we were hoping to get him on board. I don't know if he's signed with someone else yet but it won't be with us," Copeland told Cyclingnews.


The team won’t move for a big name nless Modolo goes, with Rolland’s teammate Bryan Coquard being a possible target. They also want to help 4 time Giro stage winner Diego Ulissi develop further.


"It all depends on Modolo. If he leaves then we'll need a sprinter, someone like Coquard could be interesting for us. We've spoken to see if he's interested but the negotiations haven't started."


"We have Ulissi and we'd like him to step up a bit more next year in some of the one-week races. There are a few riders on the market but some of them are asking for too much money."




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