Top 10 North American transfers of the season

Hesjedal, Pate, Woods and Acevedo are among the big changes

Ryder Hesjedal
From: Cannondale-Garmin
To: Trek Factory Racing

Ryder Hesjedal’s transfer from Cannondale-Garmin to Trek Factory Racing in 2016 marks the end of an era to some degree. He spent eight years with Jonathan Vaughters’ Garmin program and is the last of the original crew to leave the team.

Since his start on the team in 2008, the core of that group was largely viewed as including Christian Vande Velde, Dave Zabriskie, David Millar, Danny Pate, Tyler Farrar, Dan Martin and Tom Danielson. "It’s been an incredible eight years," Hesjedal told Cyclingnews. "I definitely came into by best as a cyclist on this team and we really had a great group."

Trek Factory Racing attracted Hesjedal with a lead role at the Giro d’Italia next May. It’s a GrandTour he won in 2012 and would like to go back to try his hand at winning it again. He join’s Trek’s fleet of climbers including Bauke Mollema, Julian Arredondo and Peter Stetina, who joined the team from BMC Racing.

Ryder Hesjedal (Cannondale-Garmin) leads the best Canadian rider category at the Tour of Alberta

Matthew Busche
From: Trek Factory Racing
To: UnitedHealthcare

Picking up the newly crowned US road champion from WorldTour team Trek Factory Racing was a big win for Professional Continental outfit UnitedHealthcare. Busche’s signing adds an element of prestige and experience to the US-based program that has plans to spend more time racing domestically in 2016.

Busche has a wealth of knowledge and strength to bring to the team after spending six years on the WorldTour with RadioShack and Trek Factory Racing teams. During that time he has competed in three GrandTours and has been third overall at the Tour of Denmark, second overall at the Tour of Utah, sixth overall at the Tour of California and eighth overall at the USA Pro Challenge.

This year he had hoped to give strong performances in the US stage races, however, a crash at the Tour of Utah put a dent in those plans, and although he competed in Colorado, he wasn’t in the condition he had hoped.

Joining UnitedHealthcare just might give the American the motivation and support he needs to compete for a top result in the big US stage races next year.

Matt Busche (Trek) celebrates after his win.

Janier Acevedo
From: Cannondale-Garmin
To: Jamis

After spending two seasons racing on the WorldTour with Vaughters’ programs Garmin-Sharp (2014) and Cannondale-Garmin (2015), Janier Acevedo will return to the US domestic racing scene with Jamis in 2016.

The team’s manager and director Sebastian Alexandre, who has an eye for picking up cycling talent from South America, originally hired Acevedo in 2013. That season the Colombian climber had some of the best results of his career.

At the Tour of California, he won stage 2 in Palm Springs, place second in stage 7 atop Mount Diablo and took third overall at Tour of California, behind overall winner Tejay van Garderen (BMC) and runner-up Michael Rogers (Tinkoff-Saxo). In Utah, Acevedo placed third overall behind winner Tom Danielson (then Garmin-Sharp) and runner-up Chris Horner (then RadioShack), and he went on to win stage 4 into Beaver Creek and place fourth overall at the USA Pro Challenge, behind Van Garderen, Mathias Frank and Danielson.

Alexandre, who has lost two of his strongest climbers, Daniel Jaramillo and Gregory Brenes, will be relying on Acevedo to pick up where he left off in 2013 at the three marque stage races in the US. And with his two-year experience in world-class bike racing, he might be able to secure Jamis a few more victories.

Janier Acevedo (Garmin-Sharp)

Michael Woods
From: Optum Pro Cycling p/b Kelly Benefit Strategies
To: Cannondale-Garmin

It was only a matter of time before a WorldTour team picked up Michael Woods after his strong performances during the 2015 season. In the end, it was Vaughters who scooped up the Canadian and brought him on board Cannondale-Garmin for 2016.

Vaughters first noticed Woods in 2013 after he beat Hesjedal’s record on the Haleakala Climb, a 56km volcanic ascent on the island of Maui. Woods went on to pick up some respectable results, but this year, while racing with the US-based Continental team Optum, he forged a path of success that included a fifth on the stage 4 summit finish to Alto do Malhão at the Volta ao Algarve, second place atop Manayunk Wall at the Philadelphia Cycling Classic and he won the queen stage 5 at the Tour of the Gila.

He inked a deal with Cannondale-Garmin after winning a stage at the Tour of Utah, where he briefly wore the leader’s jersey and ended up placing second overall.

Woods’ debut on the WorldTour circuit will likely consist of figuring out his true talents, however, he and Vaughters envision a season filled with short, punchy stage races and a call-up to the Ardennes Classics.

Optum Pro Cycling's Michael Woods wins stage 5 at the 2015 Tour of Utah.

Alexey Vermeulen
From: BMC Development Team
To: LottoNL-Jumbo

When a relatively unknown under-twenty-something-year-old signs a contract with a WorldTour team, it’s a big deal. Alexey Vermeulen, hit the big time when he signed a contract with LottoNL-Jumbo for two years, in what will not only be his debut on the WorldTour but also as a professional.

Vermeulen has proven himself to be a strong contender on the under-23 circuit having placed second overall and fifth overall at the Tour de l’Abitibi, fourth overall at the 3-Etappen-Rundfahrt and fifth overall at the Rothaus Regio-Tour International.

This year he was second in the under-23 time trial and fourth in the road race at the US championships, and had top 10s in stages at the Ronde de l’Isard and the Giro Ciclistio della Valle d’Aosta Mont Blanc.

LottoNL-Jumbo have committed to developing his skills for the 2016 and 2017 seasons. The team’s trainer Mathieu Heijboer said, "He has had proper training at BMC, now he gets to discover his specialities. Is he best suited for tours with steep climbs or is he better on the longer climbs? It will be exciting to discover, but it is evident that Alexey is a real GC rider."

Robert Gesink takes a turn on the front during a LottoNL-Jumbo training ride in Utrecht

Lawson Craddock
From: Giant-Alpecin
To: Cannondale-Garmin

Craddock’s jump from Giant-Alpecin to Cannondale-Garmin came somewhat as a surprise. The Dutch team invested two years in the 23-year-old American while he gained experience during his first WorldTour contract, culminating with his solid performance at this year’s Vuelta while fighting for Tom Dumoulin’s overall result.

Craddock looked like a good fit for Giant-Alpecin, but he’ll likely fit in well at the American-registered squad as well as it builds a younger roster following the departures of longtime riders like Ryder Hesjedal and Tom Danielson. Craddock will be one of at least 10 new riders on Cannondale-Garmin in 2016, and he'll be reunited with several former teammates from his U23 days.

Craddock made big strides this year after recovering from a broken sternum he suffered in January at the Tour Down Under. He was third in stage 6 of the Tour of Poland and showed great improvement during his second attempt to finish the Vuelta a Espana, proving himself a useful teammate for Dumoulin on his way to 42nd overall.

Craddock was picked for the US World Championship team, finishing the time trial in 22nd and playing a team role in the road race. His last race with Giant-Alpecin came at the Tour of Lombardy, where he failed to finish. Expect the young Texan to jump right in at Cannondale an continue to improve.

Lawson Craddock gets a selfie with a koala in the race village

Eric Marcotte
From: Team SmartStop
To: Jamis

A team shuttering its doors is rarely good news for the riders, but Eric Marcotte seems to have landed on his feet after Team SmartStop closed down following this season. The 2014 US road champion and 2015 criterium champion will Join the well-established Jamis team run by Sebastian Alexandre for next year.

As one would expect from a team with roots in criterium racing, Jamis always puts out a top effort in the sprints. JJ Haedo delivered wins in 2013 and 2014, and when he retired following the 2014 season, his brother Lucas took over this year. Marcotte will bring significant strength to the team’s sprint opportunities next season, and he’ll be a valuable weapon anytime the racing gets really hard.

The 35-year-old proven winner is also a stellar teammate who can be counted on to help climbers like returning Colombian Janier Acevedo and newcomer Kyle Murphy.

The team is losing Hagens-Berman’s sponsorship next year and will have a smaller roster, so Alexandre said he wants to optimise his resources with quality riders. Marcotte certainly fills that bill.

Eric Marcotte (Team SmartStop) wins the US criterium nationals in Greenville

Danny Pate
From: Team Sky
To: Optum p/b Kelly Benefit Strategies

Optum p/b Kelly Benefit Strategies may have pulled off the biggest catch of the offseason with the signing a Danny Pate, a 36-year-old WorldTour domestique who rode the last seven years in cycling's top division with Garmin, HTC-High Road and most recently Team Sky.

With the loss of Michael Woods and Phil Gaimon to Cannondale-Garmin next year, Optum’s ability to bring on Pate and GC rider Rob Britton looks like a wash.

Pate was a cycling prodigy who ran into the wall of doping when he tried to transition to Europe in 2000. He slowly made his way back to Europe with Garmin in 2008 and established a solid career there as a domestique.

Results for riders coming to the US Continental circuit from cycling’s big show have been mixed, but Pate will undoubtedly have the opportunity to ride for himself if he wishes next year. He'll also bring a wealth of experience to Optum, which looks to have plenty of arrows in its quiver next year. It will be interesting to see where Pate settles in with the team and in the US peloton. 

Danny Pate (Team Sky) checks his gap back to the peloton

Kiel Reijnen
From: UnitedHealthcare
To: Trek Factory Racing

Kiel Reijnen’s ascent to cycling’s top division with Trek Factory Racing shouldn’t surprise anyone. The 29-year-old all-rounder from Colorado has been winning big races with UnitedHealthcare since joining the Pro Continental team in 2013.

Reijnen looked like a sure pick for the US road team in Richmond, but a lack of racing leading up to Worlds may have cost him a shot at representing the US in a race that appeared to suit his talents. That disappointment was likely tempered by the news that he would finally be stepping up to the WorldTour after eight years of professional cycling.

Reijnen appears to be at the top of his game as he joins fellow North Americans Ryder Hesjedal and Peter Stetina on Trek. He took two stage wins in August at the Tour of Utah and the USA Pro Challenge, and he wore yellow for a day in each race.

Kiel Reijnen (UnitedHealthcare) pumped with victory

Peter Stetina
From: BMC Racing Team
To: Trek Factory Racing

Peter Stetina will ride for his third team in four years when he moves from BMC Racing to Trek Factory Racing next year. The 28-year-old came up through Jonathan Vaughters’ Slipstream system before moving from Garmin to BMC in 2014 in what at the time was seen as a somewhat surprising move. His transfer to Trek on a one-year deal for 2016 completes his Tour of US-registered WorldTour outfits.

Stetina has been recovering form a serious injury in April at the Tour of the Basque Country, where he collided with some poorly marked traffic bollards and fractured his tibia, kneecap and four ribs.

Despite suffering severe leg injuries similar to teammate Taylor Phinney’s, Stetina returned to racing in less than four months at the Tour of Utah, where he managed to finish each stage on just two-and-a-half weeks of training. His last race with BMC came at the USA Pro Challenge, where he dropped out during stage 6 from Loveland to Fort Collins.

Stetina has been a solid team performer at the WorldTour level since 2010 with Garmin. He’s finished the Giro d’Italia three times and his first Tour de France in 2014 with BMC, where he was brought on board to work for Tejay van Garderen. Stetina’s role at Trek – and the condition he can build with a full off-season of preparation – will reveal themselves in time.

Peter Stetina (BMC) leads the peloton up the first climb of stage 2 during the USA Pro Challenge.

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