It is little wonder that Trek-Segafredo have been linked to every major rider on the market. The team has only five riders under contracts for the 2017 season and with added investment from their new title-sponsor Segafredo and new sponsor CA Technologies, plus one of the best infrastructures in the WorldTour, the US-registered squad have become one of the most attractive options for riders both looking to re-sign and those on the transfer market.
The team have already been linked with Alberto Contador and John Degenkolb and although signings cannot be officially announced until August 1, Cyclingnews understands the team are close to signing both riders, with the team management set to meet with Contador and his representatives next week. They hope to reach an agreement in principle before the Tour de France with a one-year deal on the table with the option of a second, should both parties wish to continue after 2017.
Cyclingnews also understands that Trek-Segafredo are also talking to Degenkolb, who is currently at Giant-Alpecin. The team would not confirm the talks but it appears they are talking to the German about bringing in riders who will help him in the Classics. Again, the team cannot officially sign riders before the UCI’s August deadline but Trek-Segafredo see Degenkolb as a rider who can deliver in the Classics.
What is crystal clear and undisputed is that Trek Segafredo’s manager Luca Guercilena almost has an entirely blank canvas to work on. From his 25 rider roster only Jasper Stuyven, Niccolò Bonifazio, Kiel Reijnen, Edward Theuns, Julien Bernard have contracts for next year. Peter Stetina, Giacomo Nizzolo and Bauke Mollema all set to stay but have not yet re-signed. Other domestiques are expected to re-sign but that still leaves the team will many options.
“There are a lot of options around, a lot of rumours but it’s complicated by the fact that there are many one-day riders on the market but not that many GC ones,” Guercilena told Cyclingnews.
“We have a blank paper for next year but we don’t need to rush because we have solid sponsors and we know that we can give good opportunities to the riders that join the team.”
Guercilena transfer pot is boosted by the retirement of Fabian Cancellara who commands a salary reportedly in excess of 3 million Euros per-season. The Swiss rider brought huge success to the team and was an icon for the brands he represented but his departure opens up the possible arrival of two star riders.
Talks with Contador
When talks with Vincenzo Nibali went cold earlier the season Guercilena stepped up his interest in Contador.
The Tinkoff team are all but certain to close and Contador – although a huge star – actually has limited options on the market in the final years of his career. If he is unable to start his own team for next year then there are few teams that can either afford him or who are prepared to base a portion of their squad around him. Astana have Fabio Aru, Team Sky are tied to Chris Froome and Geraint Thomas, and Cyclingnews understands that Lampre are close to a deal with the Bahrain project and will bring on board Vincenzo Nibali.
In many ways Trek is the natural fit for the Spaniard but terms have not yet been agreed. Guercilena will meet Contador after the Dauphine concludes to talk about the finer parts of a deal but the thinking is that Contador and Mollema will form a partnership in the Grand Tours for 2017.
“I think it’s clear that a rider like him is really interesting for us but a ride like Alberto needs real support and investment behind him,” Guercilena told Cyclingnews.
“It’s clear he’s one of the best riders of all time and who is competitive in all races. We are interested in him and we want to be at a high level as a team.”
Cyclingnews understands that Contador, who has talked with Trek already this year, wants a two-year deal and to bring riders and staff with him from Trek. The team are open to those options and believe that Contador can lift them to another level. They also think that Contador will fit with their ethos on racing. In terms of riders, Contador wants to bring one or two men with him but Cyclingnews understands that Roman Krueziger is not currently part of the talks.
“We have the wish to make it with him but we’re still quite far,” added Guercilena.
“It’s not just speculation and rumour. We’re at the window and looking at him. If you want a percentage then 50-50 is a good number. If we can sign a name like him then I don’t need to wait until the Tour de France. I don’t need to see what he can do.”
Guercilena is also looking at the long-term health of the team. Along with looking at Contador he is also searching the market for young talent. He has his eyes in the US in the respect, while Mad Pedersen is also set to join the team.
Andrew Talansky, and Taylor Phinney, both on the market this year have been scouted by Trek in the past but neither are high on Guercilena’s current shopping list.
Degenkolb to fill the void left by Cancellara
While Guercilena works on improving the GC roster within the team he is also looking at the one-day element of the team. Degenkolb is coy on his future, telling Cyclingnews this week that ‘anything could happen’ and that ‘we’ll see’. Last week Cyclingnews wrote that the German is on his way to Trek-Segafredo.
His agent quickly emailed Cyclingnews after we printed the story and denied that a deal had been done but Cyclingnews understands that Trek are already talking to the German about which riders they will bring in to help support him in the Classics. The team would not confirm this, however, and would on that specific matter would only refer to the UCI’s August 1st deadline.
What’s clear is that there is a real desire from within the Trek camp to sign the winner of Paris-Roubaix and Milan-San Remo. Guercilena is apparently a huge fan of the rider and his qualities on and off the bike. The Italian team manager believes that Degenkolb would add a touch of class to the team. The German is currently returning to form from a serious injury but is finding his feet and regardless of the contract situation he is set to ride the Tour for Giant-Alpecin.
“He’s coming back from his injuries and it’s a complicated season. For me he’s one of the best one-day riders, and yes we’re interested in him. We’re looking but the market is very open with new names cropping up all the time. We have to pay attention to the biggest names though and John is one of them,” Guercilena said.
“We want to make another step and be at a higher level. John has won Milan-San Remo and Paris-Roubaix. He gives us advantages with the sprint and he has huge appeal.”