The Tour de France has packed up for another year but, as always, its conclusion marks the beginning of cycling’s transfer tussles and contract clashes. With the rumour mill grinding, this regular column will try to sort the wheat from the chaff and work out who’ll be where next year.
Sylvain Chavanel: A wanted man
Despite celebrating his 34th birthday during the recent Tour de France, Sylvain Chavanel is still very much a wanted man. It’s hardly surprising, with the current French national time trial champion showing no signs of slowing down yet. Capable in every discipline and over all terrain, he’s a rider who guarantees results.
Despite having been with his current team Omega Pharma-Quick Step since 2009, Chavanel has recently told French newspaper La Nouvelle République he’s considering a move away. His team have recently announced the signature of Rigoberto Uran from Sky as their main GC contender, while they have Mark Cavendish to tend to on flat stages. It’s little surprise that Chavanel has worries about his role and freedom within the team.
Chavanel announced “the management want me to stay,” though he also revealed interest from Ag2r La Mondiale and several others. Lotto-Belisol are said to be one of the teams chasing him, intriguingly alongside Movistar, who are reportedly looking to complete a double Quick Step swoop and sign Jerome Pineau too.
Will it happen? The prospect of Chavanel leaving Quick Step is obviously a serious one, though predicting where he’ll end up now is nigh-on impossible. Given he’d be a Frenchman on a comparatively small French team, Chavanel would possibly be more valued at Ag2r than either of the other supposedly interested parties, though transfers to the other two teams could be seen as slightly more ambitious. Anything could happen with this move yet.
Ag2r and BMC chase Rui Costa
If Sylvain Chavanel does head to Movistar, it could be as a more elderly replacement for Rui Costa. He’s been linked with a move to Ag2r La Mondiale too, with the French outfit – who’ve just had their sponsorship extended through to 2016 – looking keen to sign a big-name rider. Rui Costa was one of the stars of this year’s Tour de France, ending up with two stage wins and 27th overall.
The Portuguese all-rounder is quite like Chavanel in his offensive riding style, capable of winning from breakaways and in hilly one-day races. However, he’s a better climber than the Frenchman, and defended his Tour de Suisse crown earlier this year. Still only 26, he could even have the potential to become a serious GC rider in the three-week tours. A great rider to have on any team. One outfit who may be looking to hijack the move is BMC, who are looking for better results after another disappointing season.
Will it happen? Given the success that he’s enjoyed over the last couple of seasons, it would be a surprise to see Rui Costa leave Movistar. However, if he does, BMC would appear a more likely destination than Ag2r. Despite failing to deliver over the last couple of seasons, they are still one of cycling’s powerhouses, with a budget considerably larger than a middling WorldTour team than Ag2r. While it would be great to see him in a leadership role at Ag2r, I’d wager it’s more likely he’ll become one of the cooks crowding BMC’s kitchen.
Prize carrots on the menu
It has looked increasingly inevitable over the past few years, but sadly Euskaltel-Euskadi’s folding is now imminent. The carrots have been in the pro peloton since 1994, though, unable to find a sponsor, are now on the brink of vanishing altogether. According to Basque newspaper DEAI, their riders were granted permission to seek new teams prior to the Clásica San Sebastián late last month.
Unsurprisingly Movistar – who would be the only Spanish team left in the WorldTour – is being touted as a likely destination for the riders left without a team. The Izagirre brothers Jon and Gorka have both had good seasons and are being strongly linked with a move to Movistar, while Igor Anton – who led Euskaltel at this year’s Tour de France – could also wind up there next season.
However, Spanish newspaper Marca has intriguingly suggested Anton is being pursued by Italian team Lampre-Merida, which would be an unexpected – but certainly not daft – move by both parties.
Will it happen? The situation at Euskaltel looks ever more bleak, with Anton telling Marca: “They gave us the worst possible news, it’s all very difficult.” For the time being, that’s enough for us to assume we won’t see the carrots in the peloton next season. Movistar is the obvious destination for the better riders, though I’d guess there’s substance to Anton’s Lampre link too. The Italian outfit don’t really have a serious GC rider (even accounting for Damiano Cunego), and Anton – who has finished inside the top ten of the Vuelta twice – could fill that void.
Colombian fever spreads
Colombiamania has gathered pace throughout the season, and will almost certainly be in evidence in various teams’ dealings from here on in. According to Pablo Arbelaez, a sports journalist at El Colombiano, there were an amazing seven offers from WorldTour teams for riders on Team Colombia last month, so hopefully we’ll see more Colombians coming through next season.
One of the most in-demand riders is reportedly Team Colombia’s Fabio Duarte, a climber who finished 28th at this year’s Giro d’Italia, and won the 2008 Under-23 World Championships road race. A handy rider definitely capable of placing high in big tours, Astana and BMC are leading the chase for his services.
Elsewhere, Sky – who are losing their star Colombian Rigoberto Uran to Quick Step – have apparently forwarded a proposal to sign 19-year-old teammate Sebastian Henao of the Coldeportes team – who will join up with his cousin Sergio, should he sign. Even more ominous when it comes to good climbing genes is the prospect of two Quintanas working in tandem at Movistar next season – Nairo’s brother Dayer is rumoured to have signed a deal for 2014.
Will it happen? It looks like there’ll be plenty more Colombians in the WorldTour next season, and I’d be extremely surprised if Fabio Duarte wasn’t one of them. As for Henao and Quintana – if the interest from the respective teams is genuine, there’s no reason these deals can’t go through.