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Thursday Thoughts: Transfers I Hated

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Three guys in new digs that left me shaking my head

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So, I’m still 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.

If you read “Transfers I loved” and didn’t see this coming, I don’t know what to tell you. Welcome to the other side of the same coin.

Guys move on. You can’t always line up ambition, money, and opportunity in ways that suit both sides. Sometimes teams (QuickStep) can suffer from too much success. Sometimes teams fold. Sometimes riders get greedy. These things happen. Still, just as there are transfers I like (and that I told you about last week) there are transfers that frustrate me. Here are three of them.

The Transfer: Niki Terpstra to Direct Energie

Who I hated it for: Terps

Why I hated it: I mentioned last week that, for the most part, I like to see Classics riders getting themselves into a situation where they are one of several options for a team. If there’s a better example of that than Terpstra, I have no idea who it might be. He’s a very good rider. He’s also coming off a year in which he won Flanders, Le Samyn, the World TTT and E3, and placed in Paris-Roubaix and Paris-Tours. He’s not that good a rider.

I know that he’s thirty-four, married with kids and has to make a financial decision. I guess by 2020 he might even be struggling to get into the Quick Step team for Flanders if his decline is steep. Still, as a fan who is only seeing the on-the-road product, I don’t like this. I’m not looking forward to seeing him ride for a weaker team, and it’ll hurt his results.

Similar transfers: Jurgen Roelandts to Movistar

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The Transfer: Max Schachmann to Bora-Hansgrohe

Who I hated it for: Maximilian

Why I hated it: Max Schachmann is twenty-four, coming off a season with his first Grand Tour, in which he finished 31st, winning a stage. He’s proven over the last few years that he’s a powerful time triallist and a good climber, and someone who can progress as a general classification rider. He was riding for a rich team with a good support network.

Here’s a list of the riders at Bora who are as good or better than him as GC riders in big races – the guys he’ll be competing with for leadership roles: Formolo, Majka, Konrad, Buchmann, maybe Grosschartner and maybe Kennaugh. Here’s a similar list at Quickstep: Mas, Jungels, Alaphlippe (sort of). Again, I’m sure money had something to do with it, but this is a move away from opportunity, and I think it is a mistake.

Similar transfers: Giacomo Nizzolo to Dimension Data

The Transfer: Michael Valgren to Dimension Data

Who I hated it for: Di-da

Why I hated it: I’m taking a risk with this one, because I could easily look stupid if Valgren continues to improve. However, the next statement is true even if the example is poorly chosen: you shouldn’t buy a rider after a career year he’ll struggle to replicate.

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I know that Valgren comes with valuable WT points and brings credibility. I know he’s a very good rider who demonstrated great power and versatility to win Amstel and Omloop and put a scare on everyone in the World Champs. I also don’t think he’ll achieve all of that next year. I think that, by paying for past performance, a team with a limited budget is pushing a lot of chips into supporting a rider who may not pay back what he’s being offered. This team has too much of that already.

Similar transfers: Remco Evanpoel to QuickStep. I’m kidding, mostly. Still, you wouldn’t totally rule it out, would you?

Oh, and I hated Porte going to Trek, but I can’t rationalise that one yet. Leave it with me, and I’ll cover it in the Trek offseason capsule.