The Silly Season is far from over, and speculation abounds as to what responsive moves will occur now that the first wave of moves is in the books. To this point, however, it's been an unusually active transfer season, and one that reshapes the peloton in a few interesting ways. We'll have all winter to pick this apart, but here are some early conclusions:
- First, data: I'll update the sidebar link, but the WVCycling Transferlijst is my personal fave. It's the work of Dutch and Belgian fans, and seems to be updated enough to have Lance riding for Astana. [Users guide: red type = "vraagteken" = rumors? not sure why else Bettini would be on two teams, neither of them Quick Step.]
- The new Team Cervélo is shaping up in interesting ways. On the flats, they'll have a multi-pronged assault squad starting with Thor Hushovd and Heinrich Haussler, with Roger Hammond, Andreas Klier and Bjorn Leukemans (maybe) helping or leading in the classics. When the road turns up, there's Thomas Voeckler and Inigo Cuesta pitching in to protect captain Carlos Sastre. Still pretty barebones, but it's a good, solid start if they're building a team for all 9 months of the season.
- Katyusha might be a bit of a force on the cobbles next spring. A lineup that includes Filippo Pozzato, Gert Steegmans, Robbie McEwen, Joan Horrach, and maybe Vlad Gusev would be heard from, for sure.
- Another new face, ISD-Danielli, could shake up the Ardennes, along similar lines, if Rebellin and Bettini join forces there.
- Speaking of the Ardennes, no set of races will be more dramatically transformed by personnel moves, and for the better. After Belgium's top two squads Silence Lotto and Quick Step failed to make much impact on Amstel Gold, Fleche Wallonne or Liege-Bastogne-Liege this year (one podium, three total top-10s), both squads are showing increased interest in the prestigious triplet of races. Quick Step has added Sylvain Chavanel and Stef Schumacher to a roster that may yet retain Paolo Bettini (ain't over til it's over). Silence! Lotto will surround Cadel Evans with Philippe Gilbert, Bernhard Kohl, and Sebastian Lang for a more powerful team effort.
- The last big shakeup, unfortunately, will likely be at Columbia. Victims of their own success in stockpiling talent, winning races, and transfering away from a hostile home environment in Germany, Columbia is rumored to be losing Ciolek, Gerdemann, Burghardt and Klier, before it's all done. All are Germans who presumably want out to be closer to home... or to have a better chance at captaincy, an issue among Columbia's crowded ranks. It's nice to be overflowing with talent and still have everyone like each other, but that can only last so long.
That's a start. If you know of other sites to check, or needed updates to what I've posted, or have anything else to add, feel free.