By Mark Zalewski, North American Editor
Talks of transfers and newly forming teams always amass this time of year, and tracking down comments from the involved parties can be... well, difficult. Sometimes speculation turns out to be just that, and other times it just does not live up to the hype. However, this time around the talking is bigger than usual with many significant names involved - and best of all, much of the speculation has been confirmed by the people actually involved.
A team set to expand for next season is Jonathan Vaughter's TIAA-CREF squad of mostly under-23 developmental riders. The 2006 edition will see an increase in the roster due to the signing of an additional major co-sponsor. This will allow the team to add slightly older and more experienced (but still young) riders to shepherd along in their already established careers further.
"We will race quite a bit more in Europe, while upping our U.S. presence in the big events," Vaughters told Cyclingnews. He went on to reveal that some of the new riders will include the new U.S. elite criterium and pursuit champion Brad Huff (Mercy Cycling), former U.S. elite criterium champion and ex-Mercury and Saturn sprinter Rahsaan Bahati (McGuire-Langdale), and current Canadian road champion Francois Parisien (Espoirs Laval) who bested the top pros in his country to take the maple leaf jersey. The announcement of the new co-sponsor and the addition of another major name to the team will come around Interbike.
Health Net-Maxxis changing
After the season Health Net-Maxxis has had this year, it is unavoidable that the team will be able to hold-on to their entire roster. John Lieswyn has long announced his retirement at the end of the year, and Tyler Farrar is headed to the ProTour with the French team Cofidis. And even though the team is losing Wherry and Dominguez to a new team, they have re-signed at least two of their big horses, Scott Moninger and Gord Fraser - and Jeff Corbet says that the team is continuing in their role of top rider development by signing some new, younger talent.
More Americans for Saunier Duval
Finally, Saunier Duval-Prodir is once again dipping into the North American peloton for new talent, this time with Canadian Charles Dionne (Webcor) and Aaron Olson (Colavita-Sutter Home). The Spanish ProTour team cited Dionne's impressive wins in the San Francisco Grand Prix and Olson's potential, especially in the time trial. Both have signed two-year contracts according to the team management. Bicycle maker Scott-USA, who sponsors the team, will certainly happy with these additions as they continue their expansion into North America.
"I am hoping for a few early season classics, like Tour of Flanders and Paris-Roubaix," said Olson. "The team wants me to do a Grand Tour, so I will be working extra hard to make the Tour team. It's been a goal of mine, that has been a long time in the making!"
There will be more team news coming on Cyclingnews in the coming weeks - stay tuned!