It's early, and most of the individual movements have long since been reported here, but the real stories of the transfer season are just taking shape -- the team evolutions. Let's do a little baseline assessment to kick off the official transfer season, which will give us something to update/assess/make fun of in a couple months.
Key Departures: Edvald Boasson Hagen, Marcus Burghardt, George Hincapie, Kim Kirchen, Thomas Lovkvist
Key Arrivals: The Velits Brothers, Jan Ghyselinck, Tejay Van Garderen
Theme So Far: Thinning the ranks. Hey, nobody said staying on top would be easy.
TBD: Any big names coming in? No team this side of Astana is clearing more salary.
Teams 2-10 on the flip...
Key Departures: Kurt-Asle Arvesen, Karsten Kroon
Key Arrivals: None yet
Theme So Far: And there was peace in the land. Hey, Riis has gone through significant changes over the last couple years and seems to have the team he wants. Why mess with it?
TBD: I would guess nothing much.
Key Departures: Juan Flecha
Key Arrivals: Callups from the development team
Theme So Far: The stew is made, it just needs to simmer. The Rabo development machine is churning out talent faster than the big club can figure out how to deploy it. Adding talent through transfers isn't the solution to any of their problems.
TBD: Whether another year of racing in their legs and minds will flip on the switch... in a big way.
Key Departures: Nothing to see here.
Key Arrivals: Please disperse.
Theme So Far: See you in April. Same time, same team, same dull kits.
TBD: Hm, there have been plenty of rumors about the Devolder-Boonen breakup, so I suppose the calm atmosphere might not hold. But til that happens, it hasn't happened.
Key Departures: Pretty much all the foreigners aside from Contador
Key Arrivals: Oh dear... Vino and Kash! Maybe Gasparotto
Theme So Far: Head for the border.
TBD: Whether Contador stays, which seems apparent, and whether the Kazakhs can get the homologous transfusion brothers will be allowed to ride anywhere that counts.
Key Departures: Kjell Carlstrom, Francesco Chicchi, Murilo Fischer
Key Arrivals: Mostly kids
Theme So Far: Another eight months and maybe we'll figure out how to divide up responsibilities between Basso, Nibali and Kreuziger.
TBD: Not much. This is a well-constructed team, for the short and long haul.
Key Departures: Joaquin Rodriguez
Key Arrivals: Juan Soler, Marzio Bruseghin, Christope Moreau
Theme So Far: Tinkering with the formula a bit. Getting older.
TBD: Contador isn't walking through that door anytime soon. Move on!
Key Departures: Gert Steegmans
Key Arrivals: Vlad Gusev, Kim Kirchen, Joaquin Rodriguez
Theme So Far: Katusha 2.0. This year was just a dress rehearsal.
TBD: They'll be mentioned in most of the rumors yet to come. Probably be true a couple times too.
Key Departures: Johan Vansummeren
Key Arrivals: Jan Bakelants? A few other rumors
Theme So Far: If it's horribly broke, don't fix it.
TBD: Whether there is any reason to acknowledge this team next year.
Key Departures: Lots of rumors...
Key Arrivals: Vansummeren, Robbie Hunter, Fred Kessiakoff, Tom Zirbel, Jack Bobridge.
Theme So Far: We are not afraid. I know this isn't all about Tyler Farrar's spate of wins, but the team's fortunes are changing fast, on the road and off.
TBD: Who goes. Lots of likeable guys won't have a spot when Garmin gets rolling. They're also stockpiling young talent, which the Columbia experience shows isn't easy to sustain. Still, it's all way cooler than basing your season around the Giro team time trial.