Transfer 2016 round-up: Contador, Sagan and Nibali on the move

With the Tour de France done and dusted, we’re now well into cycling’s transfer silly season. Big moves have already been confirmed, others are in the offing, and we’ve rather optimistically taken on the task of trying to keep our fingers on the pulse. Without further ado, here’s a quick run down of the biggest deals – both done, and in the process of being made so:

Done deals

Alberto Contador : Tinkoff to Trek-Segafredo

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With Tinkoff disbanding at the end of the season, cycling’s biggest teams have been circling around their most important riders. Seven-time grand tour winner Alberto Contador is certainly one of those, in spite of a recent downturn in success. The 33-year-old has been snapped up by Trek-Segafredo, and will go head-to-head with Bauke Mollema for GC command at the Tour de France (and perhaps the other big races too) next season. Will he be able to revive his ailing career?

Peter Sagan : Tinkoff to Bora-Hansgrohe

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Whereas Contador was once cycling’s top commodity, that honour now goes to his Tinkoff teammate, reigning world champion Peter Sagan. Though few things are certain in cycling, to have Sagan is to guarantee prestigious victories, and there are sure to be some teams disappointed to have lost out to Bora-Hansgrohe in the race for his signature. Sagan’s both a jack and a master of all trades, and you’d be brave to bet against Bora winning the green jersey at next year’s Tour.

Vincenzo Nibali, Astana to Bahrain-Merida

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After months of tedious speculation, it has recently been confirmed that Vincenzo Nibali will next season head up the new Bahrain-Merida team backed by Prince Nasser bin Hamad Al-Khalifa of the Gulf state. For Nibali, the benefits are obvious: he’ll be able to escape the very able competition offered by Astana teammate Fabio Aru, and become the team’s undisputed leader in the grand tours. After he recovers from his Olympic injuries, he’ll be looking to find the form he’s been missing since winning the Giro d’Italia early in the season.

Michael Matthews, Orica-BikeExchange to Sunweb-Giant

Giant-Alpecin may well be losing some big sprint power with John Degenkolb‘s departure to Trek-Segafredo, but they’re banking on the ability of Michael Matthews to fill the gap. Bling is undoubtedly one of the most well-rounded sprinters in the bunch, though in the past has often failed to make the most of his ability to summit small climbs. However, he’s still only 25, and at a team with such experience and dedication to the sprint cause, there’s every reason to think this could be a very good move indeed.

Selected others: Sep Vanmarcke, LottoNL-Jumbo to Cannondale-Drapac; John Degenkolb, Giant-Alpecin to Trek-Segafredo; Lars Boom, Astana to LottoNL-Jumbo; Nicolas Roche, Team Sky to BMC; Moreno Moser, Cannondale to Astana; Roman Kreuziger, Tinkoff to Orica-BikeExchange.

Rumours

Tony Martin, Etixx-QuickStep to Bora-Hansgrohe

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Not content just to sign the best rider on the planet, Bora are hoping that Tony Martin will join Peter Sagan in signing on the dotted line. Der Panzerwagen hasn’t had quite as successful a season as he has in the past, and his dominance in the individual time trial is coming under strong pressure from Tom Dumoulin. However, there can be no doubting that he’s still one of the strongest riders in the bunch, and would make a great capture for any team.

Taylor Phinney, BMC to Cannondale-Drapac

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Taylor Phinney has long been a fan favourite, but fate has often intervened to undermine his undoubted talent. The 26-year-old time trial specialist and Giro d’Italia stage winner notably suffered a horrific leg break in 2014, which kept him out for over a year.  Since then he’s struggled to find his best form, though victory in the American national time trial championships earlier in the season offers hope he’s still got a lot to offer. Jonathan Vaughters seems to think so too: he’s reportedly set to offer Phinney a place on the Cannondale-Drapac roster next season.

Half of Italy to Bahrain-Merida

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Of course, Nibali is going to need some teammates on his new team, and if rumours are to be believed, plenty of those teammates will be Italian compatriots. Though it would be no surprise to see trusted mountain lieutenants Alessandro Vanotti and Valerio Agnoli join him from Astana, others who could arrive include Giovanni Visconti from Movistar, Diego Ulissi from Lampre, Manuele Boaro from Tinkoff and Sonny Colbrelli from Bardiani CSF. It’s not entirely bizarre: the team is likely to be based in Italy, and could reportedly take over the WorldTour licence currently held by Lampre-Merida. There’s likely to be as strong an Italian connection as a Bahraini one.

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