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Transfer Mechanics: Analysing teams 2020 – Part 3

Adam Yates – and his twin brother Simon – will once again be relied upon by Australian WorldTour team Mitchelton-Scott for their Grand Tour ambitions
Adam Yates – and his twin brother Simon – will once again be relied upon by Australian WorldTour team Mitchelton-Scott for their Grand Tour ambitions
(Image credit: Getty Images)

With the European road season now firmly behind us, and most rosters secured for next season, Cyclingnews takes a look at the 2019-20 transfer market. We delve into the ins and outs, and the analysis of who's gone where and which teams have dealt themselves a stronger or weaker hand.

In our first instalment, we looked at AG2R La Mondiale, Astana, Bahrain-McLaren and Bora-Hansgrohe, followed by CCC Team, Deceuninck-QuickStep, Dimension Data, EF Education First and Groupama-FDJ.

In this third instalment, we take a closer look at the signings at, and departures from, Team Ineos, Jumbo-Visma, Lotto Soudal, Mitchelton-Scott and Movistar.

Team Ineos

Team Ineos in action at the 2019 Tour de France

Team Ineos in action at the 2019 Tour de France (Image credit: Getty Images)

Overview: Focus on Hispanic and young riders continues.

In: Richard Carapaz (Movistar), Carlos Rodríguez (Kometa U19), Brandon Rivera (GW-Shimano)

Out: Diego Rosa (Arkéa-Samsic), Kenny Elissonde (Trek-Segafredo), Kristoffer Halvorsen (EF Education First), David de la Cruz (UAE Team Emirates).

Extended: Owain Doull (2021), Chris Lawless (2021), Ben Swift (2021), Eddie Dunbar (2022), Dylan van Baarle (2022), Michał Gołaś (2020), Christian Knees (2020), Jonathan Castroviejo (2021), Vasil Kiryienka (2020)

Analysis: The 'Hispanification' of the British team continues apace. All three confirmed transfers so far are Spanish or South American, taking the tally to eight, equal with the number of Brits. If the anticipated signing of Andrey Amador is confirmed, that figure rises to nine. 

With Chris Froome 34 and recovering from injury, and Geraint Thomas now 33, the future of Team Ineos seems to revolve around Egan Bernal. Even if new arrival Richard Carapaz is a Grand Tour winner and potential team leader in his own right, Bernal is the centre of the project. Brandon Rivera is a childhood friend and old mountain-bike rival of Bernal's, and looks set to form part of his entourage. 

The incoming Carlos Rodriguez is an intriguing one. Plucking riders straight from the juniors and handing them four-year contracts is almost unheard of, so they must really rate him. As well as the Hispanic focus, Team Ineos continue the investment in youth. Since the 2016-17 transfer window, the average age of recruits is 23.6, with 13 of the 21 being riders aged under 23. 

That's not to say that team manager Dave Brailsford isn't reaching into his notoriously deep pockets, however. Firstly, it should be pointed out that Ineos can land the likes of Bernal and Sivakov by being able to offer the most attractive terms. Secondly, the Carapaz signing seems like pure indulgence, bringing the number of Grand Tour winners to four and enhancing that strength in depth they possess over their rivals. Amador would only enhance the feeling that they're not just stockpiling the best leaders but the best domestiques, too. 

That's without mentioning Rohan Dennis, who we've reported as being close to signing. He wouldn't represent a big outlay, given his limited options, but it'd be intriguing to see where a somewhat individualistic rider, who will prioritise a national team event (the Olympics) next year, fits into the team, and whether they could get the best out of him.

Several promising riders who have got lost in the works over the past couple of years are leaving Team Ineos. Halvorsen won the U23 Worlds in 2016 but has done little of note compared to the riders he beat that day, not least Pascal Ackermann. Diego Rosa hasn't kicked on from the displays that had teams fighting for his signature three years ago, while De la Cruz has had a poor season and was reportedly shoehorned into the Vuelta line-up by his agent. The rider forced to make way in Spain? Elissonde, who will be remembered at the team for teeing up Froome's famous Giro-winning attack but who was ultimately deemed dispensable.

Jumbo-Visma

Primoz Roglic (Jumbo-Visma) chases at the 2019 Il Lombardia

Primoz Roglic (Jumbo-Visma) chases at the 2019 Il Lombardia (Image credit: Bettini Photo)

Overview: One whopping signing and a string of key extensions.

In: Tobias Foss (Uno-X), Tom Dumoulin (Team Sunweb), Chris Harper (Team BridgeLane), Christoph Pfingsten (Bora-Hansgrohe)

Out: Daan Olivier (retires), Danny van Poppel (Wanty-Groupe Gobert), Neilson Powless (EF Education First)

Extended: Sepp Kuss (2021), Antwan Tolhoek (2021), Koen Bouwman (2021), Primož Roglič (2023), Tom Leezer (2020), Bert-Jan Lindeman (2020), Paul Martens (2020), Maarten Wynants (2020), Dylan Groenewegen (2023)

Analysis: Ineos may be the outliers in terms of resources and strength in depth, but there's a sense that, if there's anyone that can rival them in 2020, it's Jumbo-Visma. 

They've made massive strides in the past couple of years and, after winning the Vuelta a España with Primoz Roglic and making the Tour de France podium with Steven Kruijswijk this year, they're not resting on their laurels. 

Tom Dumoulin is a blockbuster signing and a real statement of intent. Swooping while the 29-year-old's relationship with Team Sunweb plummeted in the early summer represented a fine piece of business, and the biggest Dutch team now have the biggest Dutch rider. Roglic wasn't put off, signing a lucrative new contract that'll keep him there for the next four years. Quite how Jumbo-Visma deploy their resources – whether they split the Grand Tours evenly or take an all-star cast to the Tour – remains to be seen, but it's a headache the management are no doubt happy to have. 

Dumoulin is the marquee signing but Tobias Foss is one of the most promising talents in the sport, having won this year's Tour de l'Avenir. The Norwegian, who can time trial as well as climb, looks a Grand Tour contender in the making, and Jumbo beat a number of teams to his signature. There's an emphasis on youth on the contract extensions list, with Kuss, Tolhoek and Bouwman all on board for another two years. The three of them were lacking at the Giro but are considered the engine room for the Grand Tour charge. 

Amongst all this, it's easy to forget about a certain Dylan Groenewegen. The Dutch sprinter won more races than anyone else this year, but where does he fit into this rapidly evolving squad? Choosing what to do with their GC resources is one thing; trying to slot a sprinter and lead-out into the mix is another. The Dutch sprinter has signed a mammoth four-year extension but it's hard to see his status or opportunity in the team anything other than diminished.

Lotto Soudal

There's been an overhaul of Lotto Soudal's Classics team ahead of the 2020 season

There's been an overhaul of Lotto Soudal's Classics team ahead of the 2020 season (Image credit: Getty Images)

Overview: An overhaul for the Belgian team's Classics department.

In: Gerben Thijssen (Lotto Soudal U23), Brent Van Moer (Lotto Soudal U23), Philippe Gilbert (Deceuninck-QuickStep), John Degenkolb (Trek-Segafredo), Kobe Goossens (Lotto Soudal U23), Stefano Oldani (Kometa Cycling Team), Steff Cras (Katusha-Alpecin), Matthew Holmes (Madison Genesis)

Out: Lawrence Naesen (AG2R La Mondiale), Tiesj Benoot (Team Sunweb), Victor Campenaerts (Dimension Data), Maxime Monfort (retires), Jens Keukeleire (EF Education First), Enzo Wouters (Tartoletto-Isorex), Jelle Vanendert (Wallonie-Bruxellles), Adam Blythe (retires)

Extended: n/a

Analysis: Tiesj Benoot was once the future of this team, hyped to the rafters after finishing fifth in his first Tour of Flanders in his first pro season. Almost four years on, he has won Strade Bianche but nothing else. Even if he has consistently demonstrated his ability, there's a sense the last couple of years haven't worked out quite the way either party envisioned. He has decided to leave for Team Sunweb, and Lotto will also say good-bye to their secondary cobbled Classics leader, Jens Keukeleire, as well as Lawrence Naesen.

Out with the development project built around a young talent, in with two established stars who are over 30. The arrival of Philippe Gilbert and John Degenkolb certainly adds some much-needed lustre to the Belgian team's Classics division, but there will be question marks over whether their best days are behind them. Thirty-seven-year-old Gilbert's best days came in a Lotto jersey, back in his all-conquering 2011 campaign, and so there is some romance to this reunion, but a three-year contract indicates rather loftier ambitions and expectation.

Meanwhile, Degenkolb, winner of Milan-San Remo and Paris-Roubaix, arguably hasn't been the same force since the horrific crash of early 2016. However, in a misfiring Trek-Segafredo squad, he has shown glimmers in the past couple of years, notably winning the Roubaix stage at the 2018 Tour and finishing second at this year's Gent-Wevelgem. 

It's an ambitious roll of the dice for the Belgian team, perhaps reflecting the changes in management and staff that have quietly taken place this year, and it's difficult to see which way it will land.

Mitchelton-Scott

Crowd favourite Esteban Chaves has signed on for another two seasons at Mitchelton-Scott

Crowd favourite Esteban Chaves has signed on for another two seasons at Mitchelton-Scott (Image credit: Getty Images)

Overview: Consolidation of Grand Tour department as focus continues to narrow.

In: Barnabas Peak (SEG Racing Academy), Kaden Groves (SEG Racing Academy), Andrey Zeits (Astana), Alexander Konyshev (Dimension Data for Qhubeka)

Out: Matteo Trentin (CCC Team)

Extended: Mikel Nieve (2021), Esteban Chaves (2021), Chris Juul-Jensen (2021), Brent Bookwalter (2020)

Analysis: A quiet window for the Australian team, whose squad is already comfortably aligned around the Yates twins. Esteban Chaves signs a new two-year deal on the back of a solid season following his health issues. If he can return to his best, Mitchelton will be a force to be reckoned with. 

Re-signing their most trusted mountain domestique, Nieve, and most trusted all-round domestique, Juul-Jensen, bolsters the Grand Tour department that has become the fulcrum of the team. The same is true for Zeits, who supported Vincenzo Nibali and Fabio Aru to Grand Tour titles during his time at Astana. 

The Grand Tour department, however, is rapidly becoming the only aspect of the team. After Caleb Ewan left this time last year, now Matteo Trentin is off, leaving them without anyone to really challenge for sprint wins. Trentin is a versatile rider and his loss will be felt keenly and widely, not least in the cobbled Classics, where Luke Durbridge is left to lead the line on his own. 

Kaden Groves is a young Australian sprinter, and Barnabas Peak a highly rated all-rounder, but they'll take time to bed in. The Yates twins can't afford to have a bad season.

Movistar

Veteran rider Alejandro Valverde will once again be heavily relied upon by Movistar in 2020

Veteran rider Alejandro Valverde will once again be heavily relied upon by Movistar in 2020 (Image credit: Bettini Photo)

Overview: All change at Spanish team as window is shaped by Acquadro fall-out.

In: Gabriel Cullaigh (Team Wiggins), Enric Mas (Deceuninck-QuickStep), Iñigo Elosegui (Lizarte), Dario Cataldo (Astana), Davide Villella (Astana), Einer Rubio (Vejus-TMF), Juan Alba (Coldeportes-Zenu), Johan Jacobs (Lotto Soudal U23), Juri Hollmann (Heizomat-Rad Net), Matteo Jorgenson (Chambéry Cyclisme Formation), Sergio Samitier (Euskadi-Murias)

Out: Mikel Landa (Bahrain-Merida), Jaime Roson (contract terminated), Jasha Sütterlin (Team Sunweb), Nairo Quintana (Arkea-Samsic), Winner Anacona (Arkea-Samsic), Richard Carapaz (Team Ineos), Carlos Barbero (Dimension Data), Jaime Castrillo (Kern Pharma), Rafael Valls (Bahrain-Merida), Rubén Fernández (Fundación Euskadi)

Extended: Alejandro Valverde (2021), Imanol Erviti (2021), Eduardo Sepúlveda (2020), Carlos Betancur (2020)

Analysis: This must have been one of the most eventful transfer windows in the long history of the Spanish team, and certainly one of the most frustrating for manager Eusebio Unzue. 

"I feel like we're becoming a feeder team for Ineos," he lamented to Marca earlier this year, with the British team snatching Carapaz and probably also Amador. The common denominator: Giuseppe Acquadro, the prominent rider agent who deals extensively with Ineos, notably wheeling and dealing to hand them Egan Bernal and Ivan Sosa. 

Acquadro allegedly strung Movistar along with Carapaz when the Ecuadorian had already agreed terms with Ineos, while Amador has reportedly gone back on a pre-agreement for a contract extension. Both are huge losses, and Unzue is so fed up he has remarkably cut all dealings with Acquadro. That means Imanol Erviti and Sergio Samitier both had to find new agents in order to finalise their respective deals. Some riders will see that as a price worth paying but an Acquadro freeze-out massively hamstrings the team in the market now and in the future. 

Amid that fall-out, there's more upheaval as Nairo Quintana and Mikel Landa join Carapaz in heading off, turning Movistar's Grand Tour department on its head. 

If Quintana's exit was anticipated and inevitable, they did try and keep hold of Landa, but their promises of a proper leadership role were too little, too late and he joins Bahrain-Merida as Tour de France leader.

Signing Enric Mas makes sense all round: Movistar getting the brightest young Spanish talent and Mas moving to a team that can support him. His podium at the 2018 Vuelta was an indication of his potential, but his performance at this year's Tour showed he is far from the finished article and, in a year where Alejandro Valverde's main focus will be one-day objectives and the Tokyo Olympics , a lot of responsibility rests on the 24-year-old's shoulders.