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“There was a new two-year contract for me. They added that if I didn’t sign I would not ride the Tour de France. But I won’t be blackmailed," Slagter tells RTV Noord

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22.10.2013 @ 12:56 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

Tom-Jelte Slagter brought a 3-year spell at Rabobank/Blanco/Belkin to an end when he signed a contract with Garmin-Sharp for the 2014 season but according to the Tour Down Under, his final time at the Dutch team was not a harmonious one. Having chosen not to extend his contract, he felt blackmailed by his employer in the second half of the season.

 

Tom-Jelte Slagter is one of several talented Dutch climbers who have been brought up through the Rabobank Development Team to the professional team which is now known as Belkin but in August it was announced that his time at the Dutch team has come to an end. The talented climber and Ardennes specialist signed a contract with Garmin-Sharp for the 2014 season and hopes to continue his progress at the American team.

 

From the outside, his relationship with Belkin appears to have been a harmonious one but now the young Dutchman reveals that he felt blackmailed by his team during the final part of the season. Having been presented with a contract offer, he felt under pressure to sign in a hurry if he wanted to ride the biggest race in the world.

 

“There was a new two-year contract for me,” he told RTV Noord. “They added that if I didn’t sign I would not ride the Tour de France. But I won’t be blackmailed.”

 

“I had about a week to decide about a new two-year contract. That’s not a very long time to think about your imminent future. If I didn’t sign, I would not be on the Tour de France team. But if it turns out to become some sort of blackmail, then no Tour. I won’t be blackmailed.”

 

In 2011 and 2012, Belkin, then known as Rabobank, had terrible Tours de France but this year their fortunes finally changed. Bauke Mollema finished 6th overall and for a long time, the team had a dangerous two-pronged attack with Mollema and Laurens Ten Dam. “Of course it was not nice at that moment not to be part of that team,” Slagter said.

 

When he decided not to renew his contract, he started to consider the many offers he had received from other teams.

 

“Even before the Tour de France I had made an overview for myself of the teams I could go to," he said. "I felt Garmin-Sharp was the best choice.”

 

In the second half of the season, Slagter had hoped to ride his first Vuelta but he wasn't selected for the Spanish grand tour. Instead, the team selected Mollema and Ten Dam as their GC riders while also building a strong lead-out train for Theo Bos.

 

“After that, I would have loved to do other WorldTour races like the Vuelta but the team decided to take the sprinter’s team around Theo Bos to Spain.”

 

The team's plans were changed at the last minute when Bos was withdrawn from the race due to low cortisol levels which were later proved to be a result of asthma medication. Mollema saved the race for the Dutch team when he won the stage to Burgos.

 

Slagter got his season off to a fantastic start when he won a stage and the overall of the Tour Down Under. Until now, he has mostly been known as a punchy rider suited to shorter climbs and so he doesn't expect to get selected for the Tour de France for his new team.

 

“I do fall a bit short on the longer climbs and in the time trials to make for a good overall classification,” he said.

 

The two Down Under victories are Slagter's only professional wins.

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