UCI Worldtour Transfers 2017 Round-Up

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Transfers round-up for the 2017 cycling season

As with every season, there has been a large amount of transfers and changes over the off-season. New teams have been created, old familiar teams and team names have been consigned to history. The highest profile transfers have seen the rainbow jersey of the world champion Peter Sagan change teams, as well as GC heavyweights Vincenzo Nibali and Alberto Contador. Strong sprinters, classics specialists and GC helpers have also found new homes elsewhere.

Long-term great Fabian Cancellara retired over the winter, along with fellow World Champion Michael Rogers and Giro d’Italia winner Ryder Hesjedal. There was also the sad retirement of Gianni Meersman, who after winning stages at the Vuelta Espana in September last year has been diagnosed with heart issues. The man who achieved notoriety for being knocked off his bike into a barbed wire fence during the Tour de France, Johnny Hoogerland also hung up his wheels (always feels a bit of a forced phrase…).

With the introduction of Bahrain Merida the peloton gains a splash of red, Abu Dhabi disappointingly went for a mostly black affair, just to make things more difficult from the overhead helicopter shots on TV. The peloton also loses the distinctive yellow of Tinkoff, with Oleg Tinkov throwing in the towel of his second attempt at a cycling team after a falling out with the powers that be.

With things shaken up considerably, we’re set for an interesting 2017 season.

New Teams:

Bahrain Merida 2017 Jersey
Bahrain – Merida

Folding Teams:

Tinkoff 2016 Jersey
Tinkoff Cycling

IAM Cycling 2016 Jersey
IAM Cycling

New Names for Existing Teams:

Bora Hansgrohe 2017 Jersey
Bora – Hansgrohe (previously Bora – Argon)

UAE Abu Dhabi 2017 Jersey
UAE Abu Dhabi (previously Lampre – Merida)

Orica Scott 2017 Jersey
Orica – Scott (previously Orica – BikeExchange)

Katusha Alpecin 2017 Jersey
Team Katusha – Alpecin (previously Team Katusha)

Quickstep Floors 2017 Jersey
Quick-Step Floors (previously Etixx – Quickstep)

Team Sunweb 2017 Jersey
Team Sunweb (previously Giant – Alpecin)

High Profile Rider Transfers:

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Other Notable Rider Transfers:

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Noted Retirees:

[table id=5 /]

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UCI Worldtour Transfers 2017 Round-Up was originally published on Me vs. Pro Cycling

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Tour de France Prologue and Stage 2 Recap

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Tour de France Logo

The Tour de France started this weekend and we’ve seen two stages take place already. The return of the Prologue time trial has allowed the general classification to receive an instant shake-up and just like previous years, Fabian Cancellara has found himself in the yellow jersey early on.

Tour de France Prologue

The Prologue was won by Aussie Rohan Dennis, who stormed through holding off Tony Martin by 5 seconds with Fabian Cancellara 6 seconds back and home favourite Tom Dumoulin 8 seconds back. Dumoulin had been a great hope for the Dutch to get their first yellow jersey in 25 years, an epic wait that seems unexplainable given the popularity of cycling in Holland and the amount of quality riders coming through.

Yellow Jersey Tour de France icon

In the potential GC battle, Wilco Kelderman came first, finishing 10 seconds ahead of Rigoberto Uran. French favourite Thubaut Pinot was only a second behind, TJ van Garderen a further second back and Vincenzo Nibali two more to lead the big four. Chris Froome, Alejandro Valverde, Alberto Contador and Nairo Quintana lost a bit more time but the biggest loser was Romain Bardet, losing a full minute on the other GC contenders.

Top 5
1 – Rohan Dennis
2 – Tony Martin 0.05
3 – Fabian Cancellara 0.06
4 – Tom Dumoulin 0.08
5 – Jos Van Emden 0.15

Tour de France Stage 2 – Utrecht to Neeltje Jans

2015 Andre Greipel TDF Stage 2 Sprint Victory

This almost pancake flat stage was ear-marked for a bunch sprint finish, but the winds on the coast and a number of crashes meant that a front group emerged and stayed away until the finish.

The sprint was won by Andre Greipel ahead of Peter Sagan, Fabian Cancellara and Mark Cavendish. The bonus seconds for coming in 3rd allowed Fabian Cancellara to take the yellow jersey from Rohan Dennis who finished in the bunch who finished 1 minute and 28 seconds behind. Another large group finished 5 minutes back and contained Dutch riders Wilco Kelderman and Laurens ten Dam, Pierre Rolland, Ryder Hesjedal and Simon Yates. Their GC chances and probably top ten chances now all but over.

Yellow Jersey Tour de France icon

Top 5
1 – Fabian Cancellara
2 – Tony Martin 0.03
3 – Tom Dumoulin 0.06
4 – Peter Sagan 0.33
5 – Geraint Thomas 0.35

8 – Tejay Van Garderen 0.44
10 – Chris Froome 0.48
14 – Alberto Contador 1.00
31 – Thibaut Pinot 2.07
33 – Vincenzo Nibali 2.09
39 – Alejandro Valverde 2.22
41 – Jean Christophe Peraud 2.25
44 – Nairo Quintana 2.27

Sprinter Jersey Tour de France icon Green

Greipel’s victory meant that he took on the Green Jersey ahead of favourite Peter Sagan. The stage finish on the Muur de Huy in Stage 3 shouldn’t influence this standing too much.

Top 5</center
1 – Andre Greipel 55
2 – Peter Sagan 39
3 – Fabian Cancellara 35
4 – Mark Cavendish 26
5 – Tony Martin 25

Polka Dot Jersey Tour de France icon King of the Mountains

With no KoM points on offer so far, we’ll see the jersey take an owner in Stage 3.

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Tour de France Prologue and Stage 2 Recap was originally published on Me vs. Pro Cycling

E3 Harelbeke 2015 Preview – Tips, Contenders, Profile

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2015 E3 Harelbeke Logo

E3 Harelbeke is the first World Tour race of Flanders week and we’ve got a strong field of riders all aiming for the win. The race has already courted some controversy before even starting with the ‘sexist poster’ storm which had a nod to Peter Sagan’s podium antics in this race. Harelbeke has been known for its risque posters in the past but the majority seemed to think this strayed over the line. The race itself covers famous hellingen such as the Paterberg (scene of many of Boonen’s attacks), Oude Kwaremont and the Kapelberg. These tough climbs favour strong riders and the strongest, most in-form rider shows himself by riding away from the peloton.

E3 Harelbeke Profile

2015 E3 Harelbeke Profile

E3 Harelbeke Contenders

John Degenkolb has become a favourite from his race winning display at Milan – San Remo last weekend, he has had decent results in the past and is clearly in form. Sagan and Cancellara are standard favourites, Cancellara has won 3 times in the last 5 years and Sagan won E3 Harelbeke last year. Sep Vanmarcke is a good shout for a top 5 place, which he’s done three times so far in this race, his weaker team seems to stop him winning the bigger races. Geraint Thomas has finished 3rd and 4th in the last two years and is a good shout to do well again if he can ride for himself – Ian Stannard is the other key Team Sky option.

Niki Terpstra came second last year, but will be racing at Dwars door Vlaanderen a couple of days before which may hinder him here. Greg van Avermaet is perpetually in the mix for these sorts of races but is missing the big win so far this season – his attack on the Poggio last weekend was a huge effort and a sure sign of strength. Sebastian Langeveld has a number of top ten finishes at Harelbeke and should get a similar result this year but would be doing well to make the podium.

Edward Boasson Hagen performed well at Milan – San Remo and has top ten finishes here – he seems to be in decent form and a part of the usual MTN team of people who were good four years ago. Zdenek Stybar won this year’s Strade Bianche but despite only having a 19th place to show for his efforts at Harelbeke, is still a contender. And finally, Sebastian Turgot has finished tenth here twice and should be the focus of AG2Rs efforts.

E3 Harelbeke Outsiders

As usual, there’s a couple of outsiders who can do well provided they get a break and their teams let them off the leash. Luke Rowe for Sky can do well provided he is released from protective duties for Geraint Thomas, Ian Stannard and Bradley Wiggins.
Yves Lampaert is a part of a strong Etixx – Quickstep line-up and again if he gets a chance he’ll be able to give a strong showing after winning Driesdaagse van West-Vlaanderen recently.

E3 Harelbeke Prediction

1 – John Degenkolb
2 – Greg van Avermaet
3 – Peter Sagan

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E3 Harelbeke 2015 Preview – Tips, Contenders, Profile was originally published on Me vs. Pro Cycling

Milan – San Remo Preview 2015 – Tips, Contenders, etc.

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Milan San Remo Logo

After successfully predicting the top two at Paris-Nice (and my tip for 3rd came 4th) – here’s my Milan-San Remo preview and predictions.

After a period for a few years with an extra hill near the end, the race now favours sprinters with a reasonable degree of climbing, provided all the attacks from puncheurs are neutralised.

Milan – San Remo Profile

2015 Milan San Remo Profile
2015 Milan San Remo Profile

Milan – San Remo Contenders

Starting with last year’s winner Alexander Kristoff, he is in good form already this year and can definitely repeat last year’s performance. Fellow sprinters Mark Cavendish, Arnaud Demare, Nacer Bouhanni, John Degenkolb, Michael Matthews and last year’s 3rd place Ben Swift can all do well.

2014 Milan San Remo Kristoff Wins
Kristoff wins in 2014

The bookies have Fabian Cancellara and Peter Sagan as the top two favourites – but both of these two struggled at Strade Bianche recently. Cancellara through illness whereas Sagan simply wasn’t strong enough. Both will be on most people’s lists for a strong finish however.

Strongmen of the puncheur type can do well if they manage to stay away and a couple may sprint well too. Greg van Avermaet has been up there all Spring so far, Sonny Colbrelli does well in Italian races, world champion Michal Kwiatkowski can blast away from the group, Tony Gallopin did very well in Paris-Nice, Alessandro Valverde can never be ignored despite his finish in Strade Bianche and Ramunas Navardauskas can do surprisingly well in a powerful sprint situation.

2013 Milan San Remo Snow
2013’s race was hit by epic snow

Milan – San Remo Outsiders

Ever since Gerald Ciolek won Milan – San Remo in the snow-hit 2013 version, outsiders know they can win if they’re the strongest that day. He will be racing this year but is again a rank outsider.

Italians with a chance of winning Milan – San Remo are Bardiani’s Enrico Battaglin, Lampre’s Filippo Pozzato, Androni’s Franco Pellizotti and Tinkoff’s Daniele Bennati. Luca Paolini has traditionally done very well, but is slowly decreasing in quality in recent years.

If you’re wanting a real outsider to follow my two riders are Luke Rowe and Matti Breschel.

Milan – San Remo Top 3 Prediction

1 – Fabian Cancellara
2 – Alexander Kristoff
3 – Greg van Avermaet

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Milan – San Remo Preview 2015 – Tips, Contenders, etc. was originally published on Me vs. Pro Cycling

Strade Bianche 2015 Review

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Strade Bianche

For all the pre-race talk of Peter Sagan and two time winner Fabian Cancellara fighting it out on the way to the finish of Strade Bianche, it didn’t pan out anything like that.

Strade Bianche 2015

The selection took place on the hardest stretch of gravel roads and saw a very elite group hit the front of the race with around 50km to go.  The likes of Vanmarcke, Nibali, Sagan, Cancellara, Valverde, van Avermaet and Stybar got free and set a pace that meant the peloton never caught up.

Then with 20km to go, Vanmarcke attacked on the same spot where Sagan and Kwiatkowski got free last year which gave us a final elite group – Sagan blew up in a big way on the climb and Cancellara drifted on and off the back of the group until losing touch for good.

Vanmarcke attacks

Vanmarcke attacks

Valverde and van Avermaet went on the attack with 15km to go, Stybar joined them and they reached the final climb all together having dropped all other contenders.

Cancellara pulls Oss along

Cancellara pulls Oss along

Valverde, the best climber, found himself on the front of the group in the worst position. Van Avermaet attacked and came round him with Stybar on his wheel and surprisingly Valverde started dropping back unable to respond. Stybar had enough to overtake van Avermaet and drop to the finish line to celebrate the win.

The early season scenery in Tuscany in the sun gave an excellent background to the racing and as mentioned in the commentary, if Strade Bianche was 80 years old, we’d definitely consider it a monument.

Stybar wins Strade Bianche

Stybar wins Strade Bianche

The amount of top quality riders battling together from all the top teams led to some great racing and due to the nature of the roads it meant we didn’t see riders protected until the finished – with the exception of Oss working for van Avermaet, no other rider had team-mates to work for them and this led to the exciting finale.

Strade Bianche Top 5

1 – Stybar

2 – Van Avermaet

3 – Valverde (my pre-race tip for the win)

4 – Vanmarcke

5 – Rosa

 

 

Strade Bianche 2015 Preview

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Strade Bianche LogoStrade Bianche is Italy’s version of a Spring Classic and a relatively new addition to the calendar. It takes place on regular roads with gravel tracks thrown in to make things interesting. The race gets its name from these sections as the white roads give it a distinctive look.

 

Strade Bianche

White roads

The race suits punchy one-day riders, with a climb in the last 1km of 9% peaking at 16% before a quick drop to the finish, it requires contenders to be relatively light rather than just powerful. It’s this climb that has seen Sagan come second twice in the last two years whereas a flat finish would see him walk it.

Strade Bianche 2014 Finale

Strade Bianche 2014 Finale

2015 sees a strong field line up at the race. Two time winner Fabian Cancellara will be aiming for a third win, one-day race king Alessandro Valverde will be racing and Peter Sagan will aim to go one better.

There is a lot of strength in depth aiming for a win too. Omloop winner Ian Stannard will race, although the final climb may not suit him, so will Niki Terpstra who was one of the Quickstep triplet that allowed Stannard to win.

Greg van Avermaet and Vincenzo Nibali race despite off the bike problems, and Sepp Vanmarcke will fly the flag for LottoNL. Simon Gerrans returns after breaking his collarbone to start his season and Carlos Betancur starts his European season for AG2R.

Strade Bianche

Strade Bianche

For those looking for a more left-field option for a good result, Sonny Colbrelli for Bardiani always seems to do well in Italian races like this, Adam Yates can do well and is suited to the final climb but his finish will depend on how well Gerrans does. Peter Kennaugh can also do well if released from Sky teamwork duties.

Top 3 Prediction

1 – Valverde

2 – Sagan

3 – Cancellara

Strade Bianche 2015 Preview

Standard

Strade Bianche LogoStrade Bianche is Italy’s version of a Spring Classic and a relatively new addition to the calendar. It takes place on regular roads with gravel tracks thrown in to make things interesting. The race gets its name from these sections as the white roads give it a distinctive look.

 

Strade Bianche
White roads

The race suits punchy one-day riders, with a climb in the last 1km of 9% peaking at 16% before a quick drop to the finish, it requires contenders to be relatively light rather than just powerful. It’s this climb that has seen Sagan come second twice in the last two years whereas a flat finish would see him walk it.

Strade Bianche 2014 Finale
Strade Bianche 2014 Finale

2015 sees a strong field line up at the race. Two time winner Fabian Cancellara will be aiming for a third win, one-day race king Alessandro Valverde will be racing and Peter Sagan will aim to go one better.

There is a lot of strength in depth aiming for a win too. Omloop winner Ian Stannard will race, although the final climb may not suit him, so will Niki Terpstra who was one of the Quickstep triplet that allowed Stannard to win.

Greg van Avermaet and Vincenzo Nibali race despite off the bike problems, and Sepp Vanmarcke will fly the flag for LottoNL. Simon Gerrans returns after breaking his collarbone to start his season and Carlos Betancur starts his European season for AG2R.

Strade Bianche
Strade Bianche

For those looking for a more left-field option for a good result, Sonny Colbrelli for Bardiani always seems to do well in Italian races like this, Adam Yates can do well and is suited to the final climb but his finish will depend on how well Gerrans does. Peter Kennaugh can also do well if released from Sky teamwork duties.

Top 3 Prediction

1 – Valverde

2 – Sagan

3 – Cancellara

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Strade Bianche 2015 Preview was originally published on Me vs. Pro Cycling