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Fernando Alonso watches Stage 18 from the VIP car
Rider agents busy negotiating during the Giro d'Italia
The Giro d'Italia is traditionally a key moment for the rider transfer market and future of major teams, as sponsors confirm or end their backing and rider agents and team managers negotiate to secure new contracts.
While the Giro d'Italia comes well before the official start of the UCI transfer window on August 1, when riders can officially sign new contracts, the most important deals are being thrashed out now.
However according to the news gathered by Cyclingnews from several different sources at the Giro d'Italia, the 2015 transfer market is being held back by one big obstacle: doubts about the creation of Team Alonso.
Formula One driver Fernando Alonso showed his face at the Giro d'Italia on stage 18 and assured the media that he was still keen to create a major team for 2015, with a estimated budget of close to 20 million Euro. However it seems the riders contacted and courted by Alonso's technical manager Paolo Bettini are currently sitting on the fence and blocking the market, as they wait for confirmation that the team will go ahead.
The riders in question, five of whom will have the vital and valuable ranking points that Team Alonso needs to secure a WorldTour place, are preferring not to sign new contracts with their current teams in the hope of being part of Team Alonso. Several team managers are also happy to wait for Alonso to make his move, knowing that they can sign the big-name riders for less if the Alonso team does not happen.
Riders linked to the Alonso team, who are out of contract at the end of 2014, include Tony Martin, world champion Rui Costa, Edvald Boasson Hagen and Nacer Bouhanni.
Bike sponsorship at Team Alonso also remains unclear and could spark a ripple effect amongst leading bike brands and their current teams.
According to Gazzetta dello Sport, Team Alonso wants an exclusive deal with a bike brand to avoid teams profiting from any technology they may bring from Formula One. Cervelo was named as a brand keen to join forces with Alonso but that could mean Garmin-Sharp loses its Cervelo deal.
Sagan all set for Tinkoff-Saxo
Cyclingnews reported that Peter Sagan is set to choose between Tinkoff-Saxo and Cannondale before the Tour de France but several sources have told Cyclingnews that the talented Slovakian will definitely ride for Tinkoff-Saxo in 2015 and beyond. The details still to be resolved are which riders will also join the team to help him in the Classics and sprints.
Evans, Porte, Gerrans, Matthews and Orica-GreenEdge
Australian television boasted that Orica-GreenEdge would sign an Australian stage race leader for 2015, marking a change in strategy for the team that has so far focused on Classics and sprints.
The suggestion quickly sparked rumours that it could be Cadel Evans or Richie Porte. Cyclingnews understands it is unlikely to be Evans, who has close links to BMC team owner Andy Rihs. Porte is apparently under contract with Team Sky for 2015 and so team manager Shayne Bannan would have to cut a deal with his British rival Dave Brailsford. The team has also been linked to Bradley Wiggins.
Orica-GreenEdge also has to find the cash to secure its current riders. Both Simon Gerrans and Michael Matthews are reportedly out of contract this year and their success at the Tour Down Under, Liege-Bastogne-Liege and the Giro d'Italia will have to be rewarded.
Bouhanni's two million euro price tag
Nacer Bouhanni (FDJ) headed home from the Giro d'Italia with three stage victories, the red points jersey and the reputation as one of the best sprinters in the sport.
With Arnaud Demare having signed a new contract with FDJ.fr and pencilled in to ride this year's Tour de France as the team's designated sprinter, Bouhanni seems to have accepted that his future lies elsewhere.
He has been linked to several teams but some of them, including Cannondale, moved quickly to deny they are interested in signing him.
It seems Bouhanni asking price has frightened off several interested teams. He apparently wants a salary of one million Euro, with a further million needed to pay for his lead out train and personal support staff.