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Damiano Cunego (Lampre)
HTC-Columbia, Sky, Cervelo and Vacansoleil in the transfer market
When it comes to the cycling’s transfer market, no one has their finger on the pulse more than Alex Carera. The Italian agent works with over 50 riders in the professional peleton, including Damiano Cunego, Juan Antionio Flecha, Mark Renshaw and Bernhard Eisel, all of whom have either signed new contracts for 2011 or are in the process of negotiating.
Cunego, who has had a poor season to date, with no victories, is one rider currently on the market and with no deal for next year, has been sounded out by a variety of teams. Initially Garmin-Transitions showed interest but with the American team cooling on the idea a number of Italian squads, including the new Geox team have stepped in. The Italian could still also stay at Lampre, while Liquigas is another possible destination for the former Giro d’ Italia winner.
“I had a very good, important meeting with [Mauro] Gianetti today,” Carera told Cyclingnews on Wednesday..
“I had already spoken to [Giuseppe] Saronni before that. Now I just need to meet [Liquigas manager] Roberto Amadio. In all three cases, money isn't an issue: we could have come to an agreement even without meeting up. The question is more how they see Damiano's career going now. That's also what he wants to figure out, because he's at a crossroads. Is there any point focusing a bit on the Classics to come 4th and a bit on the Giro to come 6th, or should he choose one or the other. Either way, we'll make a decision shortly, and it'll be a two-year deal.”
One team that Carera has monitored closely is HTC-Columbia. The American squad have let a number of riders depart. Andre Greipel and Gert Dockx and leaving for Omega Pharma, and could be followed by Adam Hansen, Vicente Reynes and Marcus Sieberg.
However both Eisel and Renshaw have re-signed, a move that should help them retain the services of Mark Cavendish, who has drawn the interest from both Sky and BMC in recent months.
“There have been more renewals than transfers in my portfolio so far. Renshaw and Eisel have both renewed with HTC, and a few hours ago I reached an agreement with Sky for Flecha to stay with them to the end of 2012.
“There are a lot of riders leaving HTC, but that's happened before and they've always maintained their position at the top of the sport,' Carera continued. "They're concentrating on renewals at the moment, then they'll think about reinforcements. Rogers and Cavendish are both interesting cases. I think renewing those two contracts is at the top of their agenda at the moment.”
According to Carera, Lampre is another team looking to strengthen their position next year, especially after the Mantova doping investigation threatened to mar their season in the Spring.
“I'm also due to talk to Saronni about renewing Grega Bole's contract with Lampre. Saronni has big plans for the team next year, in terms of riders and image, what with the shadow cast by the whole Mantova investigation.”
With 14 teams vying for just eight ProTour licenses for 2011 the market is delicately poised but with a number of high-profile riders still available to move as teams look to gain maximum UCI points.
“The rest of the market is interesting,” said Carera. “A lot of riders are in a very delicate position, facing very difficult choices. Some will go with teams just because they think that team will get a ProTour licence, when in some cases they'd be better off elsewhere. Look at the smart choice Cervélo have made, and the invitations to the best races that they get.”
One rider no longer on Carera’s books is the controversial Riccardo Riccò. The Italian recently severed his ties with both his agent and his Flaminia team, signing for Dutch Pro Continental outfit Vacansoleil.
“He had a contract with me up to the 31st of May 2011 and broke it, just as he broke his contract with Flaminia and Vittoria shoes. To be honest, I wish him all the luck in the world, but I'm glad he's no longer my rider, with all the damage he's done to cycling. It made me smile when I heard his new agent had guaranteed him a place in a team which would ride major tours. Is he really sure that he wouldn't have been better off in an Italian Pro Continental team?”