De Jongh: Without Contador there are more opportunities
Trek-Segafredo DS on winning start to 2018
With six victories from five different riders already this season, Trek-Segafredo are enjoying a resurgence after the retirement of Alberto Contador. The Spaniard hung up his wheels in 2017 after one season at the American team and his departure has created space for his former teammates to express themselves with more aggressive racing.
John Degenkolb has won twice, and was unlucky to add to that tally at the Volta ao Algarve last week, when two mechanicals halted his chances on the final sprint stage. Mads Pedersen, Toms Skujinš, Giacomo Nizzolo and Ryan Mullen have all tasted victory, and while a WorldTour win has not yet been achieved, directeur sportif Steven de Jongh believes the squad are moving in the right direction.
"We want to win more races than last year and for sure that was one of the goals. Without Alberto here then the focus is less on GC and that creates more opportunities for the other riders," de Jongh told Cyclingnews.
"The new signings have settled in well. We've seen Ryan do well and then we saw at Algarve he's been setting up sprints for Degenkolb and in the TT he had bad luck with a puncture right at the start. Alex Frame is doing some good things, Niklas Eg too and Nicola Conci. They all look to be at the right level. It's still early to say because everyone is still fresh at this point in the season but the first impressions are really good."
In the off-season much was made of Trek-Segafredo's inability to sign a replacement for Contador. Bauke Mollema will once again target the Tour de France after a year concentrating on the Giro d'Italia but the team have already been linked to a number of Grand Tour riders for 2019 as it searches for a big-name leader.
Geraint Thomas and Richie Porte are both out of contract at the end of the season with Team Sky and BMC Racing, respectively. Both riders have already been linked with Trek-Segafredo. Price will be a major factor in the team's recruitment policy. Last year the team's management told Cyclingnews that Contador's 2018 salary would be rolled into the 2019 budget – a key factor that would help the team make a marquee signing.
"I've heard the rumours, but I don't know. I think we have Bauke and if the team wants to invest in another GC rider then it has to be for a reasonable amount of money. Last year we tried to get a replacement for Alberto but it was super expensive. If we put an amount down for someone like Thomas or Porte, and other teams put a lot more down… it all has to be reasonable," de Jongh said.
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Daniel Benson was the Editor in Chief at Cyclingnews.com between 2008 and 2022. Based in the UK, he joined the Cyclingnews team in 2008 as the site's first UK-based Managing Editor. In that time, he 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 ran the coverage on Cyclingnews and has interviewed leading figures in the sport including UCI Presidents and Tour de France winners.