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:

[table id=6 /]

Other Notable Rider Transfers:

[table id=7 /]

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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John Perks Birthday Reliability Ride (CC Giro) – 14th February 2016

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CC Giro Logo

This Valentine’s Day, having no other plans to worry about, I headed out to lovely Burton on Trent with Rich (his first event) to do CC Giro’s reliability ride event. 3 events in 3 weeks is a good start to the Liège – Bastogne – Liège preparation – only 2 months left to go! CC Giro are a club from the gap north-east of Birmingham around Lichfield, Tamworth and Burton on Trent, well known for their Pink jerseys (inspired by the Giro d’Italia) and for being the home club of pro rider Dan Martin (of Liège – Bastogne – Liège winning and also crashing on the final corner fame).

John Perks CC Giro Start Rosliston Forestry Centre
Ready for the off…mine on the left, Rich’s on the right.
One £3000+ bike can be seen hiding in the background

Having caught the train up to Burton, we had just enough time to reach the starting point (Rosliston Forestry Centre), stand around for a couple of minutes, take a selfie, watch a man repair a puncture (puncturing before even starting is unlucky) and play guess the price on a Cervelo S2 with Zipp carbon wheels that was resting against the wall (correct answer is somewhere in the region of £3000+). Unfortunately we didn’t have time for a pre-ride coffee but Pret at New Street on the way up had sorted us for that anyhow. It would be nice to be able to ride a corner of the country I’d managed to never ride in up until this event.

John Perks (CC Giro) Reliability Ride

Repeating the same mistake as the Stratford ride, we tried to set off, only to see a group waiting to be released so looped round onto the back on that. Rich started receiving comments on his bravery for being the only person out wearing shorts, he was also the only person not with clippy shoes or a club rider. We sat comfortably on the back of this group for 15 miles, when we came to a hill where it all got very messy. As slower people at the front fell backwards, people had to work themselves around them, as a female rider suddenly swept across in front of me I decided I wanted out of this and shot off up the hill overtaking about 20 riders and getting some clear air. Once we were at the top I sat up to wait for Rich who surprisingly wasn’t too far behind – the big group had split into two smaller ones as a result of the hill and a roundabout shortly afterwards the guys on the front pretty much stopped to let people catch up. Rich and I pressed on.

The theory was that we could get a gap and if we started struggling we would be swept up by the group, rather than trying to hang onto the back of it. We’d been spared the headwind in the group but now in the headwind on our own it was tough work. Every now and again we could see the group behind us and the competitive instinct for the breakaway to stay away kicked in, pace was good and Rich was doing well. As we turned out and let the wind push behind us, a difficult section and a steep hill killed Rich’s knee which changed the rest of the ride for us.

Rich Mace John Perks CC Giro Climb
Rich crests the tough climb that killed his knee off…the dogs barking loudly behind me somewhat spoiled the moment.

Speed on the flat wasn’t too bad to begin with but each time the road went upwards, we were slowing right down. Eventually riders began to catch us, one by one, and we managed to jump onto the back of a group of 3 for awhile until a long drag meant they pulled a gap that couldn’t be closed. Eventually on this long straight stretch of road, our original group caught us after being away for 25 miles – I like to think that if the knee had held up then we’d have beaten them back. As it was we were firmly in stubborn resistance mode with Rich determined to finish at any speed. We did make it back, doing the 50 miles in 3 hours and 5 minutes – a respectable time, and I actually took my own photos on this event! Rich has also now bought clippy shoes ready for the next one…

Strava – John Perks Birthday Reliability Ride (CC Giro)

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John Perks Birthday Reliability Ride (CC Giro) – 14th February 2016 was originally published on Me vs. Pro Cycling

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

Liege Bastogne Liege 2015 Preview – Tips, Contenders, Profile

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Liege Bastogne Liege 2015 Logo

Liege Bastogne Liege Profile

Liege Bastogne Liege 2015 Profile

Liege Bastogne Liege is the finale of the Spring Classics and is somewhat similar to the previous classic at Fleche Wallonne in that it has a hilly parcours with a climb at the end. The key difference however is that this climb can be won by those more punchy powerful climbers rather than lighter guys on the steeper Muy de Huy.

Liege Bastogne Liege

Liege Bastogne Liege Contenders

A similar list of contenders means that one of Valverde or Kwiatkowski must be considered the favourite after recent results. Both have won important races recently and can surely repeat that in this race too.

Other riders however have targeted this race specifically – Philippe Gilbert is one, who despite dropping out of Fleche Wallonne after a crash stands a good chance here.
Dan Martin is another good shout having won here in 2013, he came very close to winning here again last year but crashed on what was pretty much the final corner. He can repeat his win if he can cast aside the bad luck.
Joaquim Rodriguez is always a contender in this sort of race, often teaming up well with Dani Moreno in a powerful one two attack. After two second places, he will be gunning for the win.

Liege Bastogne Liege 2013 Dan Martin distances Joaquim Rodriguez

Last year’s winner Simon Gerrans will be racing, but after being seemingly injured ever since Mark Cavendish took him down in the 2014 Tour de France it’s probable his condition will prevent a genuine attempt for another victory.

The young Dutch pairing of Bauke Mollema and Tom-Jelle Slagter remain on the cusp of that one career defining result. They finished 5th and 6th last year and provided they come through unscathed should find themselves in the top ten without too much trouble.

Liege Bastogne Liege 2013 Dan Martin wins

2014 World Champion Rui Costa will be racing, a solid Paris-Nice and Amstel Gold Race means he has the form to challenge for a podium spot.

The punchy finish will suit French rider Tony Gallopin who has been in exceptional form with top ten finishes Paris – Nice, Milan – San Remo, Brabantse Pijl and Amstel Gold. Built in a similar mould to Phillipe Gilbert, he can also finish highly placed.

The Tour de France warmups will continue with Vicenzo Nibali and Nairo Quintana in attendance, it doesn’t look like Chris Froome will be racing after coming off on Wednesday.

Liege Bastogne Liege 2014 Dan Martin crashes

Liege Bastogne Liege Outsiders

I’m still backing Simon Yates, the finish suits him and with duo-leader status with Michael Albasini he will have the free reign to get a result.
Benoit Vaugrenard will almost certainly not be mentioned in pre-race previews but does have four top-15 placings here. A decent outsider as FDJ don’t feature too much this time of year.
It’s hard to work out which of Sky’s riders will be given the full backing, especially as their line-up hasn’t been full confirmed as yet but I would love to see Nicolas Roche attacking up the final climb with Dan Martin as they distance all others.

Liege Bastogne Liege Prediction

1 – Kwiatkowski
2 – Valverde
3 – Gilbert

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

La Fleche Wallonne 2015 Preview – Tips, Contenders, Profile

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2015 La Fleche Wallonne Logo

La Fleche Wallonne is one of the key Ardennes Classics taking place in Belgium each year. The finale takes place on a circuit with two warmup climbs before the finish on the Muur de Huy which produces some fantastic finishes as the world’s best battle it out to time their attacks on the hill to perfection. Many of the best cyclists have won here such as Kubler, Poulidor, Merckx, Zoetmelk, Moser, Hinault, Fignon, Criquielion and Jalabert – a testament to the quality of the race.

La Fleche Wallonne Profile

2015 la fleche wallonne profile

La Fleche Wallonne Contenders

Alejandro Valverde is the obvious favourite for this race being the only double winner in the field, with one of those being last year. He has been there or thereabouts this year but may have returned to his habit of finishing on the podium (e.g. Strade Bianche).
Joaquim Rodriguez won Fleche Wallonne in 2012 and is always a threat on this sort of hilly finish. He won the overall in the Tour of the Basque Country two weeks ago so is clearly in great form going into this race.

2015 La Fleche Wallonne

Philippe Gilbert won here in his spectacular year of 2011, he’s not quite in the same form but a dig at the finish of Amstel Gold last weekend shows his ambition.
Dan Martin favours this type of race and has come close in recent years with a 2nd and a 4th.
World Champion Michal Kwiatkowski won Amstel Gold with a great sprint finish last weekend and just missed out on Paris-Nice, it wouldn’t be hard to see him repeat that performance on Wednesday as the form rider.
Bauke Mollema finished 4th in this race last year and came 2nd overall in this year’s Tirreno – Adriatico. 55th in last weekend’s Amstel Gold may be a bad sign however.
Former world champion Rui Costa doesn’t have a good previous result to bank on here but is the sort of punchy climber who stands a chance at the final of Fleche Wallonne. His 4th place in Amstel Gold shows he has the form to be a contender.

2015 La Fleche Wallonne Muur de Huy

There is an interesting Tour de France warm-up aspect to Fleche Wallonne with Nairo Quintana, Vicenzo Nibali and Chris Froome all lining up. They may contend for the win or they may be jokers in the pack attacking early on the final climb to assist others.

2015 La Fleche Wallonne Muur de Huy Turn

Then there’s the rest – either super domestiques or team leaders. Carlos Betancur did well in 2013 but hasn’t pushed on quite as much as we thought he could after a dodgy 2014. Sky’s Sergio Henao was 2nd in 2013 but also had a underwhelming 2014 and questions over blood values. Dani Moreno won here in 2013 but his role is never quite clear with Rodriguez racing, he’s a great plan B. The Dutch pair of Tom-Jelle Slagter and Wilco Kelderman can do well with Slagter finishing 5th last year and Kelderman in good form this year. Oldest man in the race, Rinaldo Nocentini often does well on an uphill finish such as the Muur de Huy. Former Olympic champion Samuel Sanchez has three top ten finishes at Fleche Wallonne and will work closely with Gilbert. And finally, Rafal Majka will be doing a rare one-day race, it will be interesting to see if he makes an appearance on the Muur de Huy.

2015 La Fleche Wallonne Muur de Huy Andy Shleck

La Fleche Wallonne Outsiders

Julian Arredondo is a decent climber who won the King of the Mountains jersery in last year’s Giro, he also finished just outside the top ten in the 2014 running of Fleche Wallonne so we know he can be there at the finish. He won’t receive much attention going into the race but is a decent shout for a top ten.
Simon Yates came 5th overall a couple of weeks back in the Tour of the Basque Country so is clearly in some hill climbing form. Greenedge may let him loose off the leash for this one and we can see him claim a top 15 place.
Tim Wellens is one of those quiet GC riders where you don’t really see them but almost silently they appear in the top ten. He’s only 23 but a top 10 position overall at Paris – Nice this year

La Fleche Wallonne Prediction

1 – Rodriguez
2 – Kwiatkowski
3 – Valverde

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La Fleche Wallonne 2015 Preview – Tips, Contenders, Profile was originally published on Me vs. Pro Cycling

Paris Nice 2015 Preview

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Paris Nice 2014

Paris Nice has been seen as a warm up for the Tour de France, a recent check of winners has the likes of Wiggins, Contador, Kelly, Anquetil, Merckx, Zoetemelk, Poulidor and Indurain on it but in modern times it can also suit those more punchy riders with a decent time trial. The Panzerwagon Tony Martin won the race in 2011 thanks to his time trialling and arguably so did Wiggins in 2012. With a prologue and a time trial included, it definitely suits those who race against the clock.

Paris Nice 2014

A cursory look at the start list gives us obvious favourites such as world champion Michal Kwiatkowski, former world champion Rui Costa, former winner Richie Porte, Tejay van Garderen, Andrew Talansky, Rafal Majka.

A couple of outsiders who can do well given the right chance are Fabio Aru, Wilco Kelderman, Benat Intxausti and Simon Yates.

ParisNice214

There are those whose specialisations will see them in the fight for stage wins – chief of which is world time trial champion Bradley Wiggins who has two opportunities to win a stage. Tony Martin will naturally be his main contender in these stages. Rohan Dennis, Tom Dumoulin, Thomas de Gendt and Sylvain Chavanel are always in with a shout in Paris Nice time trials.

Sprinters in the race include Alexander Kristoff, John Degenkolb, Arnaud Demare, Nacer Bouhanni, Bryan Coquard and  Andre Greipel. It will be interesting to see how the Demare and Bouhanni rivalry plays out after their split. Kristoff is definitely the man in form and will be favourite on the appropriate stages.

Paris Nice 2014

Today’s prologue gives us a chance to see who leads the early running.

Top 3 Paris – Nice Prediction

1 – Richie Porte

2 – Michal Kwiatkowski

3 –  Rui Costa

 

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Paris Nice 2015 Preview was originally published on Me vs. Pro Cycling