With 20 riders already under contract for 2018 Luca Guercilena only needs to add the final brushstrokes to his canvas for 2018 but the Trek Segafredo boss is open to adding to his GC arsenal, while also retaining the services of Alberto Contador.
The Spaniard signed a one-year deal with Trek Segafredo for 2017 during last year's Tour de France and has the option of a second year deal on the table. Guercilena is keen to keep the Spaniard and the feedback from inside the team is that the rider's wealth of experience on the bike – and with other manufactures – is a huge positive for their development.
With Bauke Mollema only one year into a two-year deal, and the likes of Fabio Felline, Giacomo Nizzolo, John Degenkolb, Jasper Stuyven also tied down to long term deals Guercilena is looking for one or two signings rather than a major overall like the one that took place in 2016. Julien Bernard and Jesus Hernandez are two of the riders out of contract while it's understood that Kiel Reijnen has already re-signed.
"So right now we have 20 riders on contracts. That's quite a lot and that why we're not in a hurry to make any specific business," Guercilena told Cyclingnews at the Dauphine.
"We're in a lucky place that we have sponsors through to 2020 so that's the situation. We're in control and thinking about the kind of riders we'd like to re-new with and then we're watching the market a bit. We're not really stressed about it."
There is no shortage of riders on the market and that doesn't exclude Contador. The Spaniard may be 34 but he has already indicated that he will carry on 2018 and the Giro d'Italia will almost certainly be his main focus next season. One rumour at the Dauphine is that he will retire after the race but the most likely situation is that he will race the full season. Trek are keen for him to race until the end of 2018. Either way, Guercilena is keen on retaining the Spaniard.
"He has the option but as we always have said it's up to him to decide. We'll be supportive for another year so we're looking to find solutions. Regardless of the Tour. I think he has a value and that he's a pure leader. I like that a lot," Guercilena explained.
"He's been quite fair with us so that's why we want to find a solution but whatever it is we'll be supportive of him."
Aru and keeping options open
Keeping Contador would almost certainly have a knock on effect on Trek Segafredo's remaining transfer activity. With an Italian co-sponsor the team were keen on signing Vincenzo Nibali in 2016 before finally turning their attention to Contador. This year it's Fabio Aru who is out of contract and the Italian isn't completely settled at Astana after a disappointing 2016. Negotiations between him and his team are on-going and centre around wages but the Tour de France is likely to determine whether other teams come in for him. At the moment UAE Emirates are the only team linked with a move for the former Vuelta a Espana winner but a strong ride at the Tour could change that.
"We're always attentive as to what's on offer for stage races because we can always improve in that direction," Guercilena said with regards to Aru.
"At this point we'd like to see what happens at the Tour de France as that will be a factor to analyse for this season. We can see what happens and see the possibility to invest in another rider. That's always the possibility. It's not easy because the costs go up and many teams go up in terms of budget but we try and optimise your resources."
For now Guercilena can afford to wait. It's a buyers market with one agent half-jokingly telling Cyclingnews that it seemed as though team bosses and made a pack not to sign riders in the early phase of the season.
"There's not a name that really stands out but we're open to discuss. We'd like to see what's going on. There's no name that's on top of all the others. We've received proposals from a lot of names."
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Daniel Benson is the Editor in Chief at both Cyclingnews.com and BikePerfect.com. Based in the UK, he has worked within cycling for almost 15 years, and he joined the Cyclingnews team in 2008 as the site's first UK-based Managing Editor. In that time, he has reported on over a dozen editions of the Tour de France, several World Championships, the Tour Down Under, Spring Classics, and the London 2012 Olympic Games. With the help of the excellent editorial team, he runs the coverage on Cyclingnews and has interviewed leading figures in the sport including UCI Presidents and Tour de France winners.
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