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 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

Paris – Roubaix 2015 Preview – Tips, Contenders, Profile

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Paris Roubaix 2015 Logo

Paris – Roubaix is the flattest of all the classics but has around 30km of brutal cobbled sections (which I can vouch for). The race traditionally suits heavier, powerful riders but without Boonen and Cancellara, the race is ready to move onto a new generation. If wet, this race can descend into a true Hell of the North and will have plenty of crashes. Hopefully the weather stays dry and we have a classic duel.

Paris – Roubaix Profile

Paris Roubaix 2015 Profile

Paris – Roubaix Contenders

With no Tom Boonen or Fabian Cancellara, for once there’s no overwhelming favourite with previous history. It looks like there will only be two previous winners racing, such has been the domination of these two in the last decade.

Paris Roubaix Mud

This year’s Paris – Roubaix favourite has to be Alexander Kristoff, the form he has shown this spring has been immense. He has won 9 races so far this year, which is a huge haul – it’s hard to look beyond the winner of the Tour of Flanders.

In the chasing group are the likes of Peter Sagan, Niki Terpstra, John Degenkolb and Sep Vanmarcke.
Peter Sagan has been a bit iffy this year, but it feels wrong to rule him out completely.
Niki Terpstra won Paris – Roubaix in 2014 and has won the Tour of Qatar and numerous podium spots this year.
John Degenkolb came 2nd last year but also has won Milan – San Remo this year so is clearly in form.
Sep Vanmarcke has once again been repeating his excellent run of top ten finishes without a win, this will continue.

Paris Roubaix Arenberg

Following on from that group are the Sky duo of Bradley Wiggins & Geraint Thomas. Bradley will want to finish off his road career with a strong result, he looked good in this race last year so can get a decent result with some luck. Geraint Thomas won the E3 Harelbeke race a few weeks ago and has been impressive this year, he also seems to have stopped his habit of crashing when in good positions.

Quickstep’s backup plan will be Zdanek Stybar who has won Strade Bianche and finished 2nd in E3 Harelbeke during 2015.
In the absence of Fabian Cancellara, Stijn Devolder has been asked to step up and become the Trek team’s classics leader. Good results in Driedaagse de Panne and Tour of Flanders give Trek some hope.

Paris Roubaix Cobbles

The final group of contenders includes Greg van Avermaet, Matti Breschel, Jurgen Roelandts & Lars Boom.
Van Avermaet has done well all spring but has often been the face seen trying the do or die move out of the peloton, which has hamped some finishing positions – 2nd in Strade Bianche and 3rd in Tour of Flanders shows he can do well.
Matti Breschel has 4 top-20 finishes at Paris – Roubaix, his current form is suggesting a similar result – he will be backup to Peter Sagan.
Jurgen Roelandts has been sneaking into the top-10 quite a bit this season. 11th at Milan – San Remo, 7th at both E3 Harelbeke and Gent – Wevelgem and 8th at the Tour of Flanders.
Lars Boom hasn’t had the best spring but his 6th place at the Tour of Flanders has given Astana hope and he should be their main focus despite all the off-bike issues Astana have.

Paris Roubaix Crash

Paris – Roubaix Outsiders

Sebastien Turgot has previously finished second here and been on the cusp of the top ten in the last two years but won’t command the attention these results should deserve as he isn’t as strong as several of the others during the rest of the year.

Cannondale’s Dylan van Baarle is a rider whose best years are ahead of him – winning last year’s Tour of Britain put him on the map and good results this Spring mean he can do well in Paris – Roubaix.

Normally I just go for Edward Theuns, but I’m getting bored of that. His teammate Jelle Wallays won Dwars door Vlaanderen earlier in the Spring so is in an equally good position as Theuns.

Paris Roubaix Hincapie Mud

Paris – Roubaix Prediction

1 – Alexander Kristoff
2 – Sep Vanmarcke
3 – Geraint Thomas

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

Gent – Wevelgem 2015 Preview – Tips, Contenders, Profile

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2015 Gent Wevelgem Logo

Gent – Wevelgem, the next instalment in Flanders week this year. The race can suit sprinters with big names like Mario Cipollini winning here three times, but also suits strong riders capable of breaking away on one of the short, steep climbs. Recent winners have all been powerful strong sprinters and it shouldn’t be any different this year.

Gent – Wevelgem Profile

2015 Gent Wevelgem Profile

Gent – Wevelgem Contenders

The usual duo of Peter Sagan and Fabian Cancellara are always favourites for this sort of race when they’re on the start line. Sagan has three podiums in three years but this is one race Cancellara hasn’t actually excelled at with just one top 15 finish in his career.
Last minute edit:Cancellara has been ruled out of Gent – Wevelgem, after his crash in E3 Harelbeke.

John Degenkolb is in very good form at the moment after winning Milan – San Remo and Sep Vanmarcke always finishes in the top 5 here (he’s definitely overdue a big win). Greg van Avermaet has been at the front a lot so far this Spring and Niki Terpstra looks to better his amazing Spring last year.

The out and out sprinters have a chance at Gent – Wevelgem with most recent races coming down to a bunch sprint. The big four of Brit Mark Cavendish, German Andre Griepel and French duo Nacer Bouhanni and Arnaud Demare. Each has their own chance but Cavendish has the strongest team.

The next group of stronger type sprinters have either good history or good form currently. Matti Breschel has done well at Milan – San Remo and Dwars door Vlaanderen so far in 2015 and Niccolo Bonifazio did very well in the Tour Down Under and a top 5 in Milan – San Remo the other week too. Sebastian Langeveld is a normal cert to be around the top ten of the Spring Classics and Edward Boasson Hagen has won this race before and seems in good form since his move to MTN as well.

Gent – Wevelgem Outsiders

Sam Bennett has some good results this year, a top ten in Tirreno – Adriatico and a stage win in the Tour of Qatar. He also came 12th in this race last year but won’t get too much of a mention this time around.
Edward Theuns was on this list before his result at Dwars door Vlaanderen but he’ll definitely be more on the radar now.
Andrey Amador doesn’t seem a rider ideally suited to the cobbles on paper, but he also has a top ten finish here. He was in the chasing group in Dwars doo Vlaanderen so has good form and can get another top ten this year.

Gent – Wevelgem Prediction

1 – Arnaud Demare
2 – John Degenkolb
3 – Peter Sagan

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Gent – Wevelgem 2015 Preview – Tips, Contenders, Profile 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