The 2019 racing season is almost here, and Cyclingnews continues its look at the ins and outs of the 2018-2019 transfer window, analysing how teams have equipped themselves for the forthcoming season.
Overview: A bolstered one-day squad to accompany stage race talent.
In: Jonas Vingegaard Rasmussen (neo-pro), Lennard Hofstede (Team Sunweb), Mike Teunissen (Team Sunweb), Laurens De Plus (Quick-Step Floors), Tony Martin (Katusha-Alpecin), Taco van der Hoorn (Roompot-Nederlandse Loterij), and Wout van Aert (Verandas Willems).
Out: Gijs van Hoeck (CCC Team), Enrico Battaglin (Katusha-Alpecin), Lars Boom (Roompot), Bram Tankink (retired), Stef Clement (retired), and Robert Wagner (Arkea Samsic).
Extended: Robert Gesink, George Bennett, Antwan Tolhoek, Floris De Tier, Amund Grondahl Jansen, Steven Kruijswijk, Maarten Wynants, Bertjan Lindeman, Daan Olivier, Jos van Emden.
Analysis: The Dutch outfit beat off interest in Teunissen from Bahrain-Merida, and from Lotto Soudal and again Bahrain-Merida for Van Aert, to land two marquee young riders with huge potential. The management handled the Van Aert situation with style, making sure that they didn't inflame the situation with his current struggling Pro Continental team, while at the same time ensuring that Van Aert would be on their books for 2020.
Elsewhere, it was a surprise to see Team Sunweb let Hofstede depart but the signing of De Plus is a real coup for the men in black and yellow. The Belgian rider is still just 23 but finished inside the top-25 at the 2017 Giro d'Italia - his first Grand Tour - and created an impressive stage racing palmares as an under 23 rider. In a short space of time LottoNL-Jumbo have improved on the road but perhaps their greatest success has been their ability to change their perception and attract young, promising riders to their ranks. They have an increased budget, which of course helps, but there has been a major mentality shift in their approach too.
Taco van der Hoorn had a break-through season despite only racing 19 days and has been rewarded with a two-year deal in the WorldTour. Tony Martin might be losing his powers but he is still has a dependable engine and years of vital experience. In team time trials he will be crucial, and he comes to the team with a point to prove after two poor seasons at Katusha-Alpecin.
The loss of Tankink and Clement to retirement, and Boom to Roompot sees a wave of long-serving riders leave the team but plenty of experience remains. Wagner's departure means the team has lost a potential leadout man but the plan for Van Poppel is to concentrate on the Classics, and the team's one-day line-up is improving all the time.
Overview: Caleb Ewan steps in to replace Greipel, while Wellens, Benoot and De Gendt remain key linchpins.
In: Caleb Ewan (Mitchelton-Scott), Gerben Thijssen (neo-pro), Roger Kluge (Mitchelton-Scott), Stefan Wulf (neo), Carl Fredrik Hagen (Joker Icopal), Adam Blythe (Aqua Blue Sport)
Out: André Greipel (Fortuneo-Samsic), Marcel Sieberg (Bahrain-Merida), Jens Debusschere (Katusha-Alpecin), Moreno Hofland (EF-Drapac), and Lars Bak (Dimension Data).
Extended: Thomas De Gendt, Tim Wellens, Tosh Van der Sande, Rémy Mertz, Enzo Wouters, Nikolas Maes, and Adam Hansen.
Analysis:Ewan will win races, there's little doubt about that, but filling Andre Greipel's shoes is a huge ask for the young Australian. The German was a consistent winner in Grand Tour sprints throughout his tenure on the Belgian team, and as Adam Hansen told us in January 2018, Greipel was the team's 'franchise rider'. Ewan will need time before he secures such a status. However, Marc Sergeant has tried to mitigate the accession from one sprinter to another by bringing in Ewan's lead-out man Roger Kluge, and an ex-Lotto rider Adam Blythe, who also worked with Ewan at Mitchelton for a single season.
The majority of the team's investment has been absorbed by the new sprint squad although Brent Van Moer and Gerben Thijssen look like exciting prospects for the future. The same can be said for Norwegian Carl Fredrik Hagen, who at 27, arrives in the WorldTour later than most, but is already being talked up by the team's management and his teammates.
Several riders were re-signed, including Wellens, and the team will be looking towards him, Benoot and De Gendt to chip in with high profile WorldTour wins. With 29 riders, this is a large squad, but their recruitment drive for a secondary sprinter - Ben Swift was a target before he decided to return to Team Sky - suggests that they were after another more versatility. Sergeant was also keen on keeping Greipel for another season but we all know what happened there.
Overview: Yates brothers re-sign but this is far more than just a GC team, even with Ewan's departure.
In: Robert Stannard (neo-pro), Callum Scotson (neo-pro), Brent Bookwalter (BMC), Nicholas Schultz (Caja-Rural), Edoardo Affini (neo-pro), Dion Smith (Wanty-Groupe Gobert), Tsgabu Grmay (Trek-Segafredo)
Out: Caleb Ewan (Lotto Soudal), Carlos Verona (Movistar), Roman Kreuziger (Dimension Data), Roger Kluge (Lotto Soudal), Robert Power (Team Sunweb), Mat Hayman (retires end of January), Svein Tuft (Rally Cycling)
Extended: Adam Yates, Simon Yates, Jack Haig, Damien Howson, Alex Edmondson, Luca Mezgec
Analysis: Keeping the Yates brothers was the team's main objective in the transfer market, with interest from Trek-Segafredo and UAE Team Emirates peaking during the Giro d'Italia. Hefty new contracts were awarded as Gerry Ryan pulled his cheque book out but the result meant that belts needed to be tightened elsewhere. Hence why Kreuziger and Verona weren't offered new deals.
The tale involving Ewan is more complex, but suffice to say that the agreement for him to move to Lotto Soudal was in the works well before this spring. However, it says a lot that Mitchelton never made a counter-offer to their main sprinter.
In terms of riders coming in, Bookwalter is the most experienced, although the team almost had Patrick Bevan over the line before he started having cold feet and decided to stay with Greg Van Avermaet's CCC squad. Grmay is an underrated climber, who will be looking for a home after bouncing around from team to team. Stannard and Scotson are talented youngsters with different skill sets and will be afforded the time to learn. Re-signing Mezgec and the health of Trentin will be key as the team looks for results outside of the stage racing sphere, while Chaves enters a contract year with question marks over his future. He's overcome difficulties in the past. Can he do it again?
Overall, this is a team based around far more than just stage race success. Of their 37 wins in 2018, only a handful - albeit one was a Grand Tour - were stage races. The Yates brothers can win stages and one-day races between them, while Trentin, Nieve, and Impey always provide results. Granted, there were no headline signings - another climber would be ideal, but given that retaining talent was their primary concern the team have been successful this winter.
Overview: More of the same from the Spanish squad.
In: Carlos Verona (Mitchelton-Scott), Jurgen Roelandts (BMC Racing), Eduard Prades (Euskadi-Murias)
Out: Victor de la Parte (CCC Team)
Extended: Marc Soler, Daniele Bennati, Imanol Erviti, Andrey Amador
Analysis: When you have three of the most high-profile stage racers on your books already and have little interest in competing for bunch sprints or anything that involved cobbles there's not much room for scope in the transfer market.
Therefore, it's little surprise that all of Movistar's riders are 26 or over, and come with proven track records. Roelandts - a surprise signing, was on the radar of Lotto Soudal - signed his deal early on and will provide valuable cover for Valverde, while also representing in Belgium and France.
Carlos Verona has yet to win a race but could certainly learn from Valverde, and Mas and Prades will add more depth to the stage racing pool. None of the departing riders will be sorely missed but there's a case to suggest that the squad needed more assistance in their engine room. The loss of Castroviejo, the Herrada and Izagirre brothers, and Sutherland at the end of 2017 has never been properly addressed. However, if you've got Valverde on your books and he keeps winning who cares about the cracks.