Welcome to the first of my offseason Thursday columns. I’ve got a few ideas swirling around that’ll make for good winter chatter, I hope. Sometimes, there’ll be guest co-writers, which I’m looking forward to. For now, a reminder that I’m out of the country and away from my computer, so this may not be the most up to date column I ever write. Hopefully nothing too much will change.
There are lots of lists of transfers out there. This one is particularly comprehensive. whilst this one is a bit easier to follow. There’s even a podium café thread on the subject. Why, then, another column? Well, this makes no attempt to be comprehensive, or even fair. It is simply me picking a few of the transfers that made me nod my head approvingly. Obviously, it is great to sign Egan Bernal or Ivan Sosa. Any fule no that. Some transfers, though, are about more than “big team gets big star with big money”. What impresses me is a transfer that shows thought – and a good fit, good opportunities, and good potential for improvement are all surefire ways to impress me. Like these three moves did:
The transfer: Robert Power to Sunweb
Who I loved it for: Sunweb
Why I loved it: Sunweb are one of those teams who punch above their weight in the biggest races. Developing Tom Dumoulin will do that for a team. Dumoulin and Kelderman are both legitimate general classification threats and providing them with support, on a budget, whilst also backing Matthews presents a massive challenge.
Sunweb lost Geschke and Ten Dam, having previously seen Barguil walk. This is a team that threatened to lack depth. Signing Nico Roche provided a strong enough climber and a lot of experience, but Robert Power is a really solid signing. He’s progressed nicely at Mitchelton and is similar in many respects to Sam Oomen – he’ll be of great value to the team leaders and is likely to improve in the next few years.
Similar transfers: Laurens de Plus to Lotto-NL, Giulio Ciccone to Trek.
The transfer: Stefan Kung to FDJ
Who I loved it for: Stefan
Why I loved it: When next week’s column comes out (spoiler!) you’ll see that, in general, I like Classics riders to have company. Quick Step’s 2018 is the biggest evidence, but it is clear that most riders benefit from having support around them and being one of a few team options.
Why, then, am I pleased for Stefan? Simply because he’d never be a team leader whilst in Greg van Avermaet’s shadow, and I think he deserves the chance to ride for himself. In a team with Demare, there are complimentary skills that make them an appealing one-two punch for a smaller team. It should also increase his chances of picking his own schedule for the rest of the year. Twenty-four and deceptively experienced, this is the time for Kung to take a step forwards and I think he’s set himself up to do it.
Similar transfers: None that excite me.
The transfer: Lluis Mas to Movistar
Who I loved it for: Movistar
Why I loved it: This is not news, but Movistar have been hollowed out recently. They are a team with a lot of leadership and relatively few mountain helpers. Finances have seen a lot of good riders leave and this is definitely part of their (relative) struggle in the last couple of years.
I can’t comment on salaries or budgets but signing a rider who is no longer young and expecting to lead makes sense. Getting experience and a known commodity also makes sense. I’m always interested when a big team grab a Pro-Conti rider to fill a gap and this is a square peg in a square hole signing. Not flashy, not clever, but it’ll make the team better.
Similar transfers: Nick Schultz to Mitchelton-Scott, Jan Tratnik to Bahrain-Merida.