Cyclingnews understands that Elia Viviani is close to joining Team Sky for 2015, opting to move to the British team instead of being part of the new Cannondale team managed by Jonathan Vaughters following the fusion of Cannondale and Garmin-Sharp.
The 25-year-old from Verona is a successful track rider and knows several of the riders at Team Sky, including Ben Swift, with whom he will share sprinting duties in 2015. Viviani has won 29 races so far in his career, including five in 2014. His latest victory was in Colorado Springs at the USA Pro Challenge; he was second at the Brussels Cycling Classic and third at the GP de Fourmies at the weekend.
Team Sky has yet to confirm its full roster for 2015. However, Bradley Wiggins is expected to renew his contract as he winds down his road career and focuses on the track, while Nicolas Roche (Tinkoff-Saxo), Wout Poels (Omega Pharma-QuickStep), Leopold Konig (NetApp-Endura) and Lars Petter Nordhaug (Belkin) have all been linked to the team. Edvald Boasson Hagen has confirmed that he will leave Team Sky and ride for MTN-Qhubeka in 2015.
Vaughters working to build Cannondale for 2015
Cyclingnews understands that Viviani is the only rider with an existing contract for 2015 with the current Cannondale team who will not be part of the new look team. Vaughters did not return a call from Cyclingnews but Moreno Moser has apparently signed a new two-year contract, while Alan Marangoni, Kristijan Koren, Davide Villella, Davide Formolo, Alberto Bettiol and Matej Mohoric be part of the 2015 Cannondale team alongside team leaders Andrew Talansky, Dan Martin and Ryder Hesjedal.
The new Cannondale team could have a roster of up to thirty riders, as stipulated by the UCI rules. However Vaughters has told Cyclingnews that budgetary considerations and the securing of a second title sponsor would be the key factors in any recruitment drive.
From Garmin-Sharp's existing team, Jack Bauer, Thomas Dekker, Caleb Fairly, Koldo Fernandez, Phillip Gaimon, Raymond Kreder, Lachlan Morton, Nick Nuyens, Johan Vansummeren, Tyler Farrar, Steele von Hoff and Fabian Wegmann are out of contract. Kreder has already found a new team and Farrar has signed for MTN-Qhubeka.
"We still have between five and eight places available," Vaughters told Cyclingnews at the end of August. "We're in talks with many riders and we're obviously trying to build the best team we can. What I can say is that we'll look to have an overall strong team but the emphasis is moving more towards stage races and the Ardennes."
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Stephen is the most experienced member of the Cyclingnews team, having reported on professional cycling since 1994. He has held the position of European editor since 2012 and previously worked for Reuters, Shift Active Media, and Cycling Weekly, among other publications.