From the sublime to the ridiculous, sporting transfer gossip offers no end of opportunities for speculation and distraction. Suffice to say, cycling is no different. This weekly column will bring you up to speed with the latest, greatest (and downright absurd) cycling rumours for your own examination and contemplation.
The Velits twins – Quick Step to CCC Polkowice?
According to unconfirmed reports, the Slovak twins Peter and Martin Velits of Omega Pharma-Quick Step have been holding talks with little-known Polish team CCC Polkowice, in what surely ranks as one of the strangest transfer links of the ‘silly season’ so far.
The Velits twins moved to Quick Step from the now-defunct HTC-Highroad team ahead of the 2012 season, but have struggled to deliver results leading to suggestions that they are heading away from Patrick Lefevre’s outfit. After an impressive second place in the 2010 Vuelta, 27-year old Peter was tipped as a potential Grand Tour winner, though an 18th place at the 2011 Tour de France is the best result he has achieved at a major race since then. Martin has not added an individual win to his palmares since the national time trial championship in 2010.
Will it happen? 2/5. It is weird and wonderful stories like this one which make the transfer season so amusing and entertaining. Despite not having the most spectacular of seasons, both are very capable riders, with Peter in particular a potential race winner. It would take a lot to tempt them away from the WorldTour, let alone to a team who haven’t even got Pro Continental status. It it were to come off, it will undoubtedly be a leading contender for ‘coup of the season’.
Aleksandr Serebryakov heading a trio of non-Basques at Euskaltel?
The released Amets Txurruka made sure the world knew about his team’s new policy of signing non-Basque riders when it was announced his own contract would not be renewed. Now the floodgates appear to have opened, and three non-Basques (with two of them not even Spanish) being strongly linked to the team.
Portuguese Ricardo Mestre (Tavira) and the Spaniard Juan Jose Lobato (Andalucia) are two of the three, but it is the third, Russian Aleksandr Serebryakov, who is the most intriguing. Serebryakov, who rides on the diabetics-only Team Type 1, has won races all around the world, with his top European highlight being a top five at this year’s Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne.
After the departure of Koldo Fernandez to Garmin-Sharp for the 2012 season, Euskaltel were left without any capable sprinters at all, and the introduction of Serebryakov would most certainly change that, ushering in a new – and some say unwelcome – era at the carrot-clad mountain goats.
Will it happen? 3/5. Euskaltel have made no secret of the fact that they are being forced to look outside of their own region for WorldTour points, so these moves are certainly feasible on a practical basis. Whether Euskaltel are looking at these riders specifically I can’t be certain, though without doubt Serebryakov would plug a huge sprinter-sized gap in a team of mainly climbers.
Pippo Pozzato – Farnese Vini to Lampre?
There has been yet another twist in the Pippo Pozzato story. Now it seems fairly certain he will be leaving the Farnese Vini team for the WorldTour, but the only question is: to whom? From Movistar and Katusha to Saxo Bank, he has been linked with just about every team going, with Lampre now joining the queue.
According to La Gazzetta dello Sport, Pozzato would fill the void left by Grega Bole for the Classics, though Lampre are not exactly a team known for their prowess in the spring races in recent years. Nevertheless, Pozzato achieved some excellent results at a Pro Continental team last season, so may be unperturbed by a potentially relatively weak team protecting him.
Will it happen? 4/5. Despite so many teams being linked with Pozzato already this season, this one feels more probable than any other. The obvious Italian connection between Pozzato and Lampre adds fuel to the fire, with the famous fuchsia team looking to bolster their Classics roster. It’s one I can see happening.