9 transfer flops of 2019

The very last pedal strokes of the 2019 season (opens in new tab) are being turned at the Tour of Guangxi (opens in new tab)in China on Tuesday, which means it's time to start looking back on the past 10 months. As always at this time of year, we like to delve back into last year's transfer window, and take a look at some of the high-profile moves and how they fared this term at the Tour de France (opens in new tab), the Classics and elsewhere. 

In the coming days, we'll be assessing the big transfer successes, but first, the flops. 

Whether it's adapting to the new environment, new teammates, a new calendar, or simply a lack of form for whatever other reason, there are a number of riders who, wearing fresh colours, haven't lived up to the high expectations they set for themselves in previous years. 

Michael Valgren

  • From: Astana
  • To: Dimension Data
  • Best result: 4th, Bretagne Classic

(Image credit: Getty Images)

When Dimension Data announced that they had signed exciting young Danish prospect Michael Valgren on a two-year deal, it looked as though the struggling team finally had a talisman around whom to build a successful squad. However, by the end of the spring, almost all of that optimism had evaporated.

A promising start on a key mountain stage at the Volta ao Algarve was halted by illness, with the entire Dimension Data Classics squad coming down with the same bug. 

Valgren, like the rest of the spring team, lurched through the cobbles campaign, and it wasn’t until August, at the BinckBank Tour, that the Dane looked anything like his old best. Top-10 finishes in Bretagne Classic, Grand Prix de Montreal and the Worlds followed but, despite the upturn in form, 2019 remains a disappointing season for the likeable 27-year-old. 

He is still a class act and, with a healthy run into 2020, the 2018 Amstel Gold Race and Omloop Het Nieuwsblad winner will have the motivation to come back stronger. He certainly has a point to prove.

Rohan Dennis

  • From: BMC Racing
  • To: Bahrain-Merida
  • Best result: 2nd overall, Tour de Suisse

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Rohan Dennis’ season has been covered extensively on Cyclingnews over the last few months and, while a-career saving ride at the World Championships has ensured a likely move to Team Ineos for 2020, the fact remains that this was a damaging year for both Dennis and Bahrain-Merida.

The unraveling of the relationship between rider and team culminated in a farcical episode at the Tour de France, and then a contract termination that could still lead to court proceedings. It’s not the outcome either party wanted or expected.

Phil Bahaus

  • From: Team Sunweb
  • To: Bahrain-Merida
  • Best result: 1st, Coppa Bernocchi

(Image credit: Getty Images)

It’s hard not to feel a degree of sympathy for Phil Bauhaus, who came to Bahrain-Merida with the expectancy of leading the team’s flat-track sprint train, but never fully delivered, with just one win all year. The German simply isn’t the finished product and at times he and his lead-out was stretched too thinly. 

There were plenty of top-10 finishes, but with the team set to sign Mark Cavendish, the lead-out resources at the squad could be an issue in 2020. Bauhaus will need to hit the ground running next year and use that momentum to solidify his position with the team.

Pierre Rolland

  • From: EF Education First
  • To: Vital Concept-B&B Hotels
  • Best result: 7th overall, Vuelta a Burgos

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Although Rolland is no spring chicken, his move to Vital Concept was billed as a national treasure returning home after a few years in the wilderness at Slipstream Sports. However, we’ve seen little of Rolland in terms of results this year, with a mainly domestic and ultimately unsuccessful campaign on the road.

There were flashes of the old Rolland at the Vuelta a Burgos and the CRO Race but those performances were few and far between. That said, Vital Concept also signed Rolland for his vast experience and knowledge, and those qualities are hard to quantify when looking solely at the results sheet. 

With no Tour de France spot in 2020, Rolland his team will once again be forced to wait on race invites from some of the WorldTour races and we may never see the 33-year-old in another Tour de France.

Enrico Battaglin

  • From: Jumbo-Visma
  • To: Katusha-Alpecin
  • Best result: 3rd, stage 3 Tour of the Basque Country

(Image credit: Getty Images)

This signing looked like a mistake right from the gun. After all, bar his third Giro d’Italia stage win in 2018, Battaglin had ghosted through his three-year tenure at Jumbo-Visma. Cue a move to Katusha-Alpecin, with the 29-year-old failing to make an impression once again. 

To be fair, few in Katusha colours covered themselves in glory this season, but while the riders deserve praise for their fortitude and professionalism, more was expected in terms of results. Battaglin personifies some of the poor rider recruitment at Katusha over the last few years, and now like a number of his teammates, his future looks unclear.

André Greipel

  • From: Lotto Soudal
  • To: Arkéa-Samsic
  • Best result: 1st, stage 6 La Tropicale Amissa Bongo

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Although Greipel showed signs of slowing down in 2018 few would have predicted the German’s win rate to fall off in such dramatic fashion this season. The 37-year-old picked up just one win all season – a stage in La Tropicale Amissa Bongo – before illnesses, an average lead-out and aging legs combined to leave the rider and Arkéa-Samsic terminating his two-year deal less than a year into proceedings.

Greipel doesn’t appear ready for retirement just yet, with speculation linking the 11-time Tour de France stage winner with a move to Mathieu van der Poel’s Corendon Circus team. Whatever the outcome, his season at Arkéa was a flop.

Fernando Gaviria

  • From: QuickStep Floors
  • To: UAE Team Emirates
  • Best result: 1st, stage 3 Giro d'Italia

(Image credit: Getty Images)

This was certainly not the year Gaviria or his new team was hoping for after a fire sale at QuickStep last autumn saw UAE Team Emirates land one of the hottest sprinting talents in professional cycling.

Ilness and a knee injury lead to a stop-start 2019 campaign, but despite that Gaviria still popped up with three WorldTour wins and a string of near misses. Had he turned even half of his second places this year into wins he would have almost doubled his win tally but UAE Team Emirates are still a work in progress. 

Next year, Gaviria will have his trusted lead-out man, Max Richeze at his side and far more will be expected of the Colombian during his second season with UAE Team Emirates.

Niki Terpstra

  • From: QuickStep Floors
  • To: Total Direct Energie
  • Best result: 2nd, Paris-Tours

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Terpstra is perhaps a harsh inclusion on this list due to the fact that he crashed out of the Tour of Flanders yet was still a consistent performer throughout much of the season. 

A podium in the opening weekend and second in Paris-Tours are nothing to be sniffed at but this was a year in which Terpstra was expected to step out of the QuickStep shadow. That never quite materialized but there were certainly signs – both before and after his spring injury – that this transfer could still lead to success.

Richie Porte

  • From: BMC Racing
  • To: Trek-Segafredo
  • Best result: 1st, stage 6 Tour Down Under

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Porte started his first season at Trek-Segafredo with a customary win on Willunga Hill at the Tour Down Under but from there the Australian struggled with form and fitness, with a series of illnesses and race programme alterations resulting in a mediocre season by his standards. 

By the time the Tour de France rolled around, Porte lacked the base of form he would have normally built up during the spring and that was evident by a dogged but ultimately below-par 11th place in Paris. 

However, it’s in the week-long races where Porte surprisingly struggled the most, with fifth in the Tour of California his best result post-January. 

Next season, Porte will once again target the pre-Tour week-long stage races, and if he can remain fit and healthy he has every chance of adding to his collection of titles.

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