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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Tour de France 2015 Recap

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Tour de France Logo

Another Tour is in the history books with Brit Chris Froome now a two time winner of the race. The hilly profile created lots of exciting racing and a tight finish with a race between Nairo Quintana and Chris Froome up Alpe d’Huez to decide the winner. The start back in Utrecht feels like a lifetime ago but after a little introspection the 2016 Tour is only 11 months and 1 week away!

2015 Tour de France Froome Quintana

Tour de France 2015 Prediction Recap

Yellow Jersey Tour de France icon
1 – Chris Froome (1st)
2 – Nairo Quintana (2nd)
3 – Alberto Contador (5th)
4 – Vicenzo Nibali (4th)
5 – Thibaut Pinot (16th)
6 – Romain Bardet (9th)
7 – Alejandro Valverde (3rd)
8 – Tejay van Garderen (DNF – Sick)
9 – Pierre Rolland (10th)
10- Simon Yates (89th)

7 of the top 10 predicted correctly!

Sprinter Jersey Tour de France icon Green
Green Jersey – Alexander Kristoff (10th) – Way off with this one, Kristoff was weirdly quiet through the Tour. Peter Sagan predictably dominated, riding in the break on many consecutive days to thwart Andre Greipel.

Polka Dot Jersey Tour de France icon King of the Mountains
King of the Mountains Jersey – Joaquim Rodriguez (5th) – Not a shocker, he was a contender and did have a go

Youth Jersey – Nairo Quintana (1st)

Outsiders:

Simon Yates – 89th – The overall position disguises the promise shown, Orica Greenedge had a horror first week and ended up severely depleted for the rest of the race. 8th on the Muur de Huy and 11th on Alpe d’Huez shows genuine talent at a young age.
Tony Gallopin – 31st – Spent most of the first two weeks in the top ten overall, had 5 top ten stage results without winning a stage.
Louis Meintjes – DNF – Got involved in a breakaway on Stage 12 and finished 5th but another who struggled with illness.
Sam Bennett – DNF – Had one top ten result but then became ill and really struggled before having to quit the race.
Eduardo Sepulveda – DSQ – Sepulveda was doing well until during a mechanical he hopped into the team car and was driven 100 metres up to the other car with a replacement bike. Riders can’t ride in cars at all and he got disqualified.

And finally some of the best Tour de France on-board camera footage:

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Tour de France 2015 Recap was originally published on Me vs. Pro Cycling

Tour de France 2015 Preview – Tips, Contenders, Profile

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Tour de France Logo

Tour de France Parcours

2015 Tour de France Parcours Route

Tour de France Contenders

Yellow Jersey Tour de France icon

This year we have the ‘Big Four’ who are all looking to win the Tour de France’s yellow jersey. Three of them have won before with only Nairo Quintana still to win. Vincenzo Nibali is last year’s winner but questions exist after his poor showing in the recent Criterium du Dauphine. Alberto Contador won this year’s Giro d’Italia and is looking to achieve the double victory, a feat not achieved since Marco Pantani in 1998. 2013 winner Chris Froome is the bookies favourite and will have to find a different way to win with significantly less time trialling in this year’s route.

Sprinter Jersey Tour de France icon Green

Peter Sagan is the perennial favourite, being able to finish highly in many different types of stages. Alexander Kristoff is another capable of finishing well on those stages that finish with an uphill. Mark Cavendish is hoping to avoid a repeat of his 2014 Tour, however a lack of classic flat sprinter stages may harm any Green jersey ambitions. With the absence of Marcel Kittle, the Giant-Alpecin team are fully behind John Degenkolb, looking for a maiden Tour de France stage win. Andre Greipel has won a stage in each Tour de France that he’s competed in and always loves beating his old teammate Cavendish. French hopes lie with the pairing of Nacer Bouhanni and Arnaud DeMare. Once rivals at FDJ, the move of Bohanni to Cofidis allows the rivalry to take place together on the road.

Polka Dot Jersey Tour de France icon King of the Mountains

The hardest jersey to predict as it often becomes a target once GC riders have fallen out of contention. The bookies have the GC favourites as the main contenders with Nairo Quintana favourite. The first week normally sees Nicolas Edet claim the jersey after a series of breakaways. After the Dauphine, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see MTN’s Daniel Teklehaimanot make a charge for the jersey either. Personally I can see Joaquim Rodriguez losing time on the Prologue, then some more in the crosswinds and then struggle on the cobbles stage too. With all this in mind, he may end up ideally placed for an attempt on the Polka Dots.

Tour de France Outsiders

Big things are expected of Brit Simon Yates, who I think is capable of at least a top ten overall position.
Tony Gallopin seems a cert for a stage win at some point in the Tour.
MTN’s Louis Meintjes is capable of a possible KoM attempt or finishing very high on some mountain stages. A 3rd place on the road to Mont Blanc recently shows his form.
Bora-Argon 18’s sprinter Sam Bennett has been tipped to finish highly, with 3 victories this year he certainly stands a good chance.
Early on in the season Eduardo Sepulveda finished 4th, just 30 seconds behind Nairo Quintana, in the Tour de San Luis. Capable of climbing, he will be Bretagne-Seche Environment’s main leader.

Tour de France Prediction

1 – Chris Froome
2 – Nairo Quintana
3 – Alberto Contador
4 – Vicenzo Nibali
5 – Thibaut Pinot
6 – Romain Bardet
7 – Alejandro Valverde
8 – Tejay van Garderen
9 – Pierre Rolland
10- Simon Yates

Green Jersey – Alexander Kristoff
King of the Mountains Jersey – Joaquim Rodriguez
Youth Jersey – Nairo Quintana

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Tour de France 2015 Preview – Tips, Contenders, Profile was originally published on Me vs. Pro Cycling

Tour de Romandie 2015 Preview – Tips, Contenders, Profile

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2015 Tour de Romandie Logo

The Tour de Romandie is set amongst Switzerland’s western region and in recent years, thanks to Team Sky, has become part of the practice run for the Tour de France. With a team time trial as well as an individual time trial, it favours those GC riders that do well against the clock as well as strong teams that can keep their leaders out of trouble on the hurdles throughout the week.
The queen stage coming just before the final time trial will see who has the early season legs amongst the elite GC riders and notch up the first psychological win.

Tour de Romandie Stages

Stage 1 – Vallée de Joux › Juraparc (19.2k) – Team Time Trial
Stage 2 – Apples › Saint-Imier (166.1km) – Medium Hills
Stage 3 – Moutier › Porrentruy (173.2km) – Medium Hills
Stage 4 – La Neuveville › Fribourg (169.8km) – Medium Hills
Stage 5 – Fribourg › Champex-Lac (166.1km) – Summit Finish
Stage 6 – Lausanne › Lausanne (17.3km) – Time Trial

Tour de Romandie Podium

Tour de Romandie Contenders

Chris Froome is the clear favourite here having won the previous two years and more or less dominating proceedings. A strong Sky team consisting of most the usual Sky Tour de France riders should keep him well protected.
Following the Tour theme, Vicenzo Nibali will be trying to show his form, although a 5th place here last year didn’t hamper him too much as he went on to win the Tour de France.
Nairo Quintana is also here in preparation for another Grand Tour bid, he’s the best climber of the elite GC guys and his time trialling is surprisingly decent but not quite on Froome’s level. A definite contender.

There are plenty of other contenders who will also feature in this race as well as in a couple of months time during the Tour de France.
Rigoberto Uran isn’t quite in that top bracket of GC contender but isn’t far off either. With the likes of Tony Martin powering along the Etixx-Quickstep team time trial train, he won’t lose much time there but may do in the final time trial.
Rui Costa did well at Paris – Nice earlier this season, coming in 4th. In this similar one week race, he can repeat this but his time trialling skills and those of his team will probably leave him too much time to make up in the mountains.

Tour de Romandie Hills

Tinkoff-Saxo will be relying on Rafal Majka for a good GC result – his 6th at least year’s Giro and the KoM jersey at the Tour de France marked him out for greater things but so far this year he’s not had the results to back this up.
After his third place in the Tour de France last year, FDJ’s Thibaut Pinot will be bidding to repeat that performance and can show his early form here. More of a climber than an all-round GC contender – he will aim to do well on the queen stage summit finish.

Ag2r’s Carlos Betancur will find himself in a similar position but as a most explosive climber, at his best, could threaten the overall podium. After a mixed 2014, it will be interesting to see which version of him turns up.
On the next rung down of quality we have Ryder Hesjedal who hasn’t had too many strong results since winning the Giro d’Italia but it’s still hard to discount him. A powerful support team will keep him out of trouble.

Tour de Romandie Mountains

Jurgen Van den Broeck has always been there or thereabouts without really getting that elite GC result. Expect to see him on the fringes of the top ten.
Frenchman Pierre Rolland will look to do well on the summit finish queen stage but his time trialling skills will hamper his bid for a very high overall position.

Former Tour de Romandie winner Simon Spilak cannot be ruled out, it’s been five years since he won here but finishing second to Chris Froome two years in a row is a sign he takes this race seriously.

Tour de Romandie Team Sky Train

Tour de Romandie Outsiders

Reto Hollenstein – The Swiss rider’s home race, he’s being groomed as IAM’s potential GC leader and the right combination of having the team behind him and riding through home may lead to a solid result overall.
Ramunas Navardauskas – Definitely one with a chance of a stage win, the powerful Lithuanian excels on uphill sprints after tough rolling profiles.
Simon Yates – I keep tipping him to do something great…5th overall in the recent Tour of the Basque Country shows he’s on the cusp.

Tour de Romandie Prediction

1 – Chris Froome
2 – Nairo Quintana
3 – Vicenzo Nibali
4 – Rigoberto Uran
5 – Rui Costa

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Tour de Romandie 2015 Preview – Tips, Contenders, Profile 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 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

 

 

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

Vincenzo Nibali’s Astana bind

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Astana-Pro-Team-2015We’ve been here with Astana before, some time ago.

Way back in 2007 in their first proper season Astana had big names such as Vinokourov, Kashechkin, Kessler and Mazzoleni suspended for doping (it’s not hard to see the link to the Deutsche Telekom team either). These actions saw them not receiving an invite to the 2008 Tour de France (and other ASO events) despite having defending champion Alberto Contador in their lineup. Not racing in the biggest events of the cycling season can only have had a massive hit to their finances and without state financing would surely have seen them go under.

Vinokourov

Vinokourov

2009 saw the return to racing of Vinokourov and the unretirement of Lance Armstrong who came third one his return to the Tour de France before it was expunged for his own doping exploits.

2010 saw Contador stripped of his Tour de France win due to the infamous tainted beef clenbuterol positive. Yet another doping positive and result taken away from Astana.

Contador

Contador

The period of 2011-2014 however was relatively quiet with any scandals coming later and being backdated.
Levi Leipheimer admitted that he doped whilst on the team back in 2008-9, Remy di Gregorio was taken into custody due to doping in 2011 with Astana, Roman Kreuziger was placed under investigation for anomalous blood values in 2011-2012 and Paolo Savoldelli admitted to working with Dr. Ferrari in 2007.

Nibali

Nibali

Which brings us to the winter break leading into the 2015 season. 5 Astana (2 full Astana riders and 3 from the junior Astana team) riders were banned for doping, a massive spike and a sign of a wider problem.
First off was Valentin Iglinsky who had a positive doping test in the Eneco Tour race, closely followed by his brother Maxim, both for using EPO. The three riders on the Pro-Continental development team were Artur Fedosseyev, Victor Okishev and Ilya Davidenok who were all caught having used steroids.

Today we’ve learnt that Astana stand to lose their racing licence for 2015 which puts certain high profile riders such as 2014 Tour de France winner Nibali in a certain bind.
Cataldo

Cataldo

Those riders such as Dario Cataldo must be regretting their decision to move to Astana and face this uncertainty, as it stands there could be a firesale but with team budgets already confirmed and presumably full for 2015, there’s only so many who will be able to find other rides this year. The likely bet would be that Oleg Tinkov could free up some funds to sign Nibali for his Tinkoff-Saxo team but some of the old guard would probably be forced into retirement.

With the UCI’s plan to reduce team numbers and Europcar’s decision to finish at the end of 2015, having many more riders than available places will cause more issues than it solves, cycling is currently much too transient and unstable financially to support their plan of 20 WorldTour teams without an ongoing battle.

Ultimately we could eventually see a situation such as Formula One, where those with high talent and good results at junior level find it impossible to attain a spot in a decent team at the highest level due to drivers managing to pay their way with sponsorship and a fear of failure.