Blazin' Saddles

World Tour cycling transfer round-up

Blazin' Saddles

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With both Vacansoleil-DCM and Euskaltel-Euskadi disbanding at the end of the season, there's a fair amount of movement going on as riders look to find a new home ahead of the 2014 campaign.

The likes of Igor Anton, Johnny Hoogerland and Samuel Sanchez are still without a confirmed team, while a whole host of riders have decided to up-sticks and ply their trade elsewhere.

If a grizzled Grand Tour winner such as Chris Horner is finding it hard to find a new home then it's easy to comprehend how tense a period this is is for many involved in the sport.

But then again, if Thomas De Gendt can find a new outfit, then there's hope for everyone... So, let's take a look at each top flight team and see who's coming in and who's going out.

Ag2R-La Mondiale

Ins: Alexis Gougeard (Veranda Rideau), Sebastien Turgot (Europcar), Damien Gaudin (Europcar), Patrick Gretsch (Argos-Shimano), Maxime Daniel (Sojasun)

Outs: John Gadret (Movistar), Valentin Iglinskiy (Astana), Manuel Belletti (Androni)

Last year was quite splendid for the French team, with the likes of Christophe Riblon, Carlos Betancur and Romain Bardet all shining. Snaring Europcar classics specialists Turgot and Gaudin is quite a coup (podium finishers in the past two Paris-Roubaixs) while finding a taker for dead-wood Gadret was nothing short of magic.

Argos-Shimano

Ins: Daan Olivier (Rabobank Development Team), Chad Haga (Optum), Lawson Craddock (Bontrager), Dries Devenyns (Omega Pharma-Quick-Step), Kyara Stijns

Outs: Patrick Gretsch (Ag2r-La Mondiale), Yann Huguet (retired), Francois Parisien (released)

Experienced Belgian Devenyns will add some steel and we definitely like the sound of Chad Haga and Lawson Craddock, whoever they may be. Gretsch's engine will be missed, perhaps, but the key for Argos was always keeping hold of their Kittel-Degelkolb sprint axis and the core of their train.

Astana

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Ins: Lieuwe Westra (Vacansoleil-DCM), Franco Pellizotti (Androni-Giocattoli), Mikel Landa (Euskaltel-Euskadi), Valentin Iglinskiy (Ag2r-La Mondiale)

Outs: Egor Silin (Katusha)

There was lots of talk about certain riders joining to bolster Vincenzo Nibali's support during the Grand Tours, but so far things have been quiet at Astana. Westra is a strong addition who should strengthen the team in the week-long stage races while Landa is one to develop. The Kazakh team are clearly throwing caution to the wind by flouting MPCC rules to pick up curly-haired Italian veteran Pellizotti, who was perhaps owed a favour from Vino from back in the day...

Belkin

Ins: Nick van der Lijke (Rabobank Development Team), Barry Markus (Vacansoleil-DCM), Jonathan Hivert (Sojasun)

Outs: Tom-Jelte Slagter (Garmin-Sharp), Mark Renshaw (OPQS), Luis Leon Sanchez (released)

Sprint tyro Markus will fill the void left by the departing Renshaw, while Hivert should get Belkin some good publicity when rolling up Ventoux and/or Alpe d'Huez in last place, some 30 minutes behind the grupetto. But losing Tour Down Under winner Slagter will be a blow of sorts. The same cannot be said of Luis Leon Sanchez, whose contract Belkin have probably wisely bought out in a bid to wash their hands of a potential doping hot potato as the Spaniard's cases rumble on.

BMC

Ins: Rick Zabel (Rabobank Development Team), Peter Velits (OPQS), Peter Stetina (Garmin-Sharp), Darwin Atapuma (Colombia), Ben Hermans (RadioShack-Leopard)

Outs: Ivan Santaromita (Orica-GreenEDGE), Mathias Frank (IAM Cycling), Marco Pinotti (retiring)

BMC's big business was to prolong the contract of former world champion Philippe Gilbert, although given the season he's just had, it's hard to think why. Velits should replace some of Pinotti's outgoing time trialling gusto but the Swiss-based side will be hoping that Cadel Evans and Tejay van Garderen can prove themselves in the Giro and Tour, plus Thor Hushovd finally comes good. Keep an eye out for Atapuma in the mountains.

Cannondale

Ins: Marco Marcato (Vacansoleil-DCM), Matej Mohoric (Sava), Davide Formolo, Alberto Bettiol

Outs: No one

Cannondale have managed to keep hold of Ivan Basso for another year despite the interest from Astana, presumably in the hope that the Italian veteran can have a one final season free of saddle sores and/or hypothermia. The team's biggest coup was to attract enough of Oleg Tinkov's millions to pay the wages of Peter Sagan as Tinkoff leaves Saxo Bank to become a co-sponsor at Cannondale. Given the Russian businessman's hands-on style to team involvement, time will tell if his millions come at a price. Marcato arrives from Vacansoleil - and if the rumours are to be believed, team-mate Johnny Hoogerland will follow. This should mean that fans finally see some lime green in the breakaways - although the Bull of Beveren will likely ride primarily in support of Sagan. Although the Slovakian should watch out - he'll soon be playing second fiddle to Slovenian Under 23 world champion Mohoric and his meteoric rise...

Euskaltel-Euskadi

Ins: No one

Outs: Mikel Landa (Astana), Gorka Izagirre (Movistar), Ion Izagirre (Movistar), Mikel Astarloza (retiring)

It looked like Formula One driver Fernando Alonso had stepped in to save the iconic Basque team - but following a breakdown in negotiations everything fell apart, meaning the peloton will be devoid of orange for the first time in two decades. While most of the team's roster are still in the hunt for a new home - including big name riders Igor Anton and Samuel Sanchez - the prized Izaguirre brothers, Jon and Gorka, have both been snared by Movistar, while Nieve is putting his personal ambitions aside to join "the best team in the world", Sky, on a two-year deal, where he should slip into the shoes marked 'Uran' quite comfortably.

FDJ

Ins: Pierre-Henri Lecuisinier, Olivier Le Gac, Sebastien Chavanel (Europcar)

Outs: No one

A quiet transfer window so far for FDJ, who enjoyed a wonderful final week on the Vuelta with wins for Alexander Geniez and Kenny Elissonde. The older, less good, Chavanel brother joins from Europcar, swapping lead-out duties for Bryan Coquard to a similar role in support of Nacer Bouhanni. Given the trajectories of their careers, it's quite astonishing to think that Sebastian will now ride in the World Tour while Sylvain will drop to Pro-Continental level at IAM - but that's cycling for you.

Garmin-Sharp

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Ins: Lasse Norman Hansen (Blue Water Cycling), Dylan van Baarle (Rabobank Development Team), Phillip Gaimon (Bissel Cycling), Tom-Jelte Slagter (Belkin), Nathan Brown (Bontrager), Ben King (RadioShack-Leopard), Sebastian Langeveld (Orica-GreenEDGE), Janier Alexis Acevedo (Janis)

Outs: Peter Stetina (BMC Racing), David Zabriskie (retiring), Christian Vande Velde (retiring), Robbie Hunter (retiring), Martijn Maaskant (UnitedHealthcare)

The austerity at Garmin continues with only the arrivals of Slagter and Langeveld (both classic Garmin signings) making up for a flurry of retirements. Having ended his drought with his first European win of the season last week, Farrar has extended for another year, as has sunglasses model and one-time Giro d'Italia cyclist Hesjedal. Andre Cardoso of Caja Rural may yet be added, with manager Jonathan Vaughters a big fan of the experienced Portuguese climber.

Katusha

Ins: Egor Silin (Astana), Alexander Rybakov (Rusvelo), Pavel Kochetkov (Rusvelo)

Outs: Timofey Kritskiy (Rusvelo)

The Russian team have been quiet so far, which will suit them just fine after last year's tempestuous off-season. The return of Silin after a year at Astana is hardly headline material; more support really should be added if the world number one rider Joaquim Rodriguez wants to mount a serious challenge for a Grand Tour crown next season - otherwise, there may be more tears on the horizon.

Lampre-Merida

Ins: Mauro Richeze (Nippo-De Rosa), Sacha Modolo (Bardiani Valvole), Rui Costa (Movistar), Rafael Valls Ferri (Vacansoleil-DCM), Nelson Oliveira (RadioShack-Leopard), Gang Xu (Champion System)

Outs: Adriano Malori (Movistar)

The Italian team pulled off the coup of the transfer window by landing Movistar's double Tour stage winner Rui Costa on a one-year deal just days before the Portuguese all-rounder rode into the rainbow jersey in Florence. The big question now is how to make a white jersey with rainbow bands look elegant alongside a pair of pink, blue and green shorts. Valls Ferri is a worthy arrival from Vacansoleil, while Modolo should add sprinting options alongside Richeze, who has already proved his worth. Losing time trial specialist Malori to Movistar is a blow, but a necessary makeweight in the Costa deal. With the world champion likely to be the team's main GC man, veteran Michele Scarponi is said to be hawking after a move away, with the likes of Cannondale, Astana and Europcar all hovering with intent.

Lotto Belisol

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Ins: Tony Gallopin (RadioShack-Leopard), Kris Boeckmans (Vacansoleil-DCM), Sean De Bie (Leopard-Trek Continental), Sander Armee (Topsport Vlaanderen Baloise), Vegard Breen (Joker - Merida), Maxime Monfort (RadioShack-Leopard), Pim Ligthart (Vacansoleil-DCM), Boris Vallee (Colour Code Biowanze)

Outs: Vincente Reynes (IAM Cycling), Frederique Robert (Want - Groupe Gobert), Jurgen van de Walle (retiring), Dirk Bellemakers (retiring)

The most important aspect of the summer was the resigning of Andre Greipal and all his sprint train components. French pair Gallopin and Monfort arrive from RadioShack to add more options to Lotto's limited armoury, while Vacansoleil pair Boeckmans and Ligthart will find a role to play at some point. Losing Reynes is no huge loss. Expect business as usual for Lotto-Belisol, who will hope Jelle Vanendert and Jurgen van den Broeck finally have injury-free campaigns.

Movistar

Ins: Adriano Malori (Lampre-Merida), Alejandro Marque (OFM - Quinta da Lixa), Jasha Sutterlin (Thuringer Energie Team), Gorka and Jon Izagirre (Euskaltel-Euskadi), John Gadret (Ag2r-La Mondiale)

Outs: Rui Costa (Lampre-Merida), Angel Madrazo (Caja Rural), Vladimir Karpets, Juan Jose Cobo

The bespectacled Madrazo was not progressing as anticipated so losing him will be no huge loss - although, with Alejandro Valverde getting on a bit and Nairo Quintana keen to mount a serious challenge in the Tour, you sense that allowing Costa to leave will be a mistake (especially now that the Portuguese is world champion). The arrival of Izaguirre brothers is exciting, however; it will be interesting to see how they develop inside what is clearly a vastly superior set-up than that of Euskaltel, for whom the bright orange jerseys seemed to be the only valid raison d'etre. Gadret seems an odd choice to arrive on the back of two largely barren seasons. Somewhat predictably, it's also Karpets for Cobo, so to speak.

Omega Pharma-Quick Step

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Ins: Rigoberto Uran (Team Sky), Mark Renshaw (Belkin), Julian Alaphilippe (Etixx-Ihned), Wout Poels (Vacansoleil-DCM), Petr Vakoc (Etixx-Ihned), Jan Bakelants (RadioShack-Leopard), Thomas de Gendt (Vacansoleil-DCM)

Outs: Peter Velits (BMC), Sylvain Chavanel (IAM Cycling), Jerome Pineau (IAM Cycling), Dries Devenyns (Argos-Shimano), Kristof Vandewalle (Trek)

With Mark Cavendish complaining that his lead-out train lacked mustard-cutting abilities last year, Alessandro Petacchi was brought in and out of retirement. Reuniting Cav with his old HTC partner Renshaw should improve things further - although it does seem that the Belgian team are keen to become a big player on GC as well, as exemplified by the arrival of Cav's old Sky team-mate Uran. Poels is just the kind of rider who will flourish alongside the Colombian, while Bakelants arrives from RadioShack on the back of an impressive Tour. After De Gendt's "disastrous" season, the Belgian all-rounder threatened to give up cycling if not snapped up by a World Tour team. After much um-ing and ah-ing, OPQS decided to take the plunge and give the 2012 Stelvio Sensation a season-long contract described by manager Patrick Lefevere as "one year of redemption". Sensing (perhaps correctly) that his options would be limited, Chavanel has taken a gamble on IAM and taken his dancing partner Pineau with him. And remember, Tom Boonen will be back and feels "better than ever".

Orica-GreenEDGE

Ins: Ivan Santaromita (BMC), Mathew Hayman (Team Sky), Simon Yates, Adam Yates, Damien Howson (Jayco)

Outs: Fumiyuki Beppu (Trek), Sebastian Langeveld (Garmin-Sharp), Daniel Teklehaimanot (MTN-Qhubeka)

The Australian team are still without anyone who remotely resembles a GC rider - although perhaps this is the year that Cameron Meyer finally steps up. Or not. Haymen, whose parents obviously have an aversion to the letter 'T', joins from Sky, while up-and-coming British twins Adam and Simon Yates have done the sensible thing and snubbed Sky to join the Australian outfit as neo-pros. Ominously, the two former track stars would "love to develop the way [Cam Meyer] has". Eritrean big mouthful Daniel Teklehaimanot has joined African team MTN-Qhubeka where he will take on a leadership role.

Team Sky

Ins: Nathan Earle (Huon Salmon Genesys Wealth Advisers), Philip Deignan (UnitedHealthcare)

Outs: Rigoberto Uran (OPQS), Mathew Hayman (Orica-GreenEDGE)

Why change a winning formula? That seems to be Sky's policy this year, with the outgoing climber Uran being replaced in a near like-for-like swap by Nieve. Securing Richie Porte on a new long-term contract was more important than injecting too much fresh blood into an already winning squad. With Bradley Wiggins back from injury, Chris Froome on cloud nine and Sergio Henao now the team's top Colombian, things look rosy for Dave Brailsford's outfit.

Saxo Bank

Ins: Michael Valgren (Cult Energy)

Outs: Jonathan Cantwell (Drapac), Anders Lund and Benjamin Noval (retiring)

Alberto Contador will be hoping for one or two fresh faces although it looks like it will be an off-season of consolidation over change. Contador's friend and faithful lieutenant Noval has retired, while Bjarne Riis is still in the hunt for a new co-sponsor following the acrimonious split with Oleg Tinkov, who has taken Tinkoff off to Cannondale instead. Quite how Cannondale think Sagan's podium behaviour and attitude to the opposite sex can improve with a man like Tinkov around is anyone's guess...

Trek

Ins: Fumiyuki Beppu (Orica-GreenEDGE), Jasper Stuyven (Bontrager), Frank Schleck (unattached), Fabio Felline (Androni-Giocattoli), Julian Arredondo (Team Nippo - De Rosa), Riccardo Zoidl (Team Gourmetfein -Simplon), Kristof Vandewalle (OPQS), Jasper Stuyven (Bontrager), Boy van Poppel (Vacansoleil-DCM), Danny van Poppel (Vacansoleil-DCM)

Outs: Tony Gallopin (Lotto-Belisol), Maxime Monfort (Lotto-Belisol), Ben King (Garmin-Sharp), Nelson Oliveira (Lampre-Merida), Jan Bakelants (Omega Pharma - Quick-Step), Ben Hermans (BMC)

A spat with Andy Schleck was avoided with the olive leaf shown to his brother Frank, who will return to the fold after his ban and subsequent six months in the wilderness. The new Trek team will taken on the core of RadioShack while adding a number of riders (such as the van Poppel brothers). Keeping Fabian Cancellara was key - although numbers are still down so expect some late arrivals from Euskaltel and, perhaps, Vuelta champion Chris Horner (#hedidthat), who has still yet to work out where he'll be riding his trademark 10km uphill out-of-the-saddle bursts next year. Tiago Machado and Andreas Kloden are also without a new team for 2014.

Vacansoleil-DCM

Ins: No one

Outs: Kris Boeckmans (Lotto-Belisol), Lieuwe Westra (Astana), Barry Markus (Belkin), Wout Poels (OPQS), Pim Ligthart (Lotto-Belisol), Rafael Valls (Lampre-Merida), Sergey Lagutin (Rusvelo), Frederik Veuchelen (Wanty), Boy van Poppel (Trek), Danny van Poppel (Trek), Thomas de Gendt (OPQS), Juan Antonio Flecha (retiring), Romain Feillu (Bretagne - Seche Environement), Bjorn Leukemans (Wanty), Wesley Kreder (Wanty), Mirko Selvaggi (Wanty), Marco Marcato (Cannondale)

Vacansoleil manager Hilaire van der Schueren is taking over the Pro-Continental Wanty team in 2014 and taking many of his riders with him. While "dear to my heart", Johnny Hoogerland is not one of them - the Dutch national champion commanding too much of a salary and on the verge of joining Cannondale.

Have any transfer gossip? Then share your pearls of wisdom below...

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