We pick 10 professional cyclists to keep an eye on during the 2017 race season
- Photos by Graham Watson and Yuzuru Sunada
Several new professional cycling stars broke through in the 2016 season, with some more established ones finding new form and motivation to take some big victories.
We’ve rounded-up 10 names who we think will make an impact during the 2017 race season: some are well established names who are switching to a new team and are looking to make their mark, and others are fresh-faced riders who’ve been given a chance to shine in the WorldTour.
“The Tour is the goal, the Tour is the goal,” he said, repeating it to underline his intention.
It would be Alberto Contador‘s comeback after abandoning to crashes in 2016, suffering in 2015 after winning the Giro d’Italia and breaking his tibia in the 2014 edition. Trek-Segafredo could provide the needed stimulus after six years in Tinkoff.
“The objectives will be clearer in the different races,” he said. “A good programme so that the team is 100 per cent at the Tour.”
Trek-Segafredo also signed John Degenkolb, from Giant-Alpecin, to lead the classics team. His challenge will be to reach the top again after a British driver wiped out team Giant in an early season training incident.
The German, winner of both Milan-San Remo and Paris-Roubaix in 2015, suffered a fractured forearm, nearly lost his finger and of course, missed the spring classics. He completed the Tour and showed he is back on track with an Arctic Race of Norway stage win, his first victory in 11 months.
“I’m happy it’s now behind me,” he said. “I was always fighting to make up the disadvantage. I’m looking forward to a regular training schedule again.”
TJ-Lampre, Great Britain
Team Sky sprinter Ben Swift flew the coop after seven years, since the team debuted in 2010, for a chance to spread his wings fully. He is the first and only of the Sky Brits to leave for a better opportunity.
TJ-Lampre should allow him plenty of opportunities from the early spring classics to grand tours. “[Team Sky] completely understood,” he said. “I was presented with an opportunity I couldn’t refuse.”
The first goal: Milan-San Remo. Swift wants to turn his second and third place in the Italian classic into wins. Giuseppe Saronni, winner in 1983, may provide the magic touch to do so.
TJ-Lampre’s Filippo Ganna could blossom already in his first professional year given his pedigree. This year at 19-years-old he made his mark with a individual pursuit win in the World Championships and the under-23 Paris-Roubaix victory.
Expect an early win in a short time trial, one like the Tour of Qatar – if TJ-Lampre take part. He would provide direct competition to another Italian, Adriano Malori, over the short distances. And of course, Paris-Roubaix. TJ-Lampre could give Ganna space in some of the smaller classics and perhaps the big one, just to whet his appetite.
Team Sky, Great Britain
After a team pursuit gold in the Olympics and a trainee period with Sky, Owain Doull makes his official professional debut in 2017 with his home team. Doull, remember, went to see the 2010 team launch as a 16-year-old.
Now, his goal is to learn the professional road racing ways, develop and find his space. Bradley Wiggins says the he reminds him of a young Geraint Thomas because he is fast and can climb. Doull explained, “I’d like to focus on the classics to start with”.
Cannondale-Drapac, Great Britain
For 2017, the Englishman takes a jump from Caja Rural-Seguros RGA to team Cannondale-Drapac.
“In my opinion, probably the best young stage-racing talent out of the UK,” said Cannondale General Manager Jonathan Vaughters. “I think he’s got a big future in three-week races, and we want to help him develop into the best rider he can be.”
Carthy raced his first grand tour in the Vuelta this summer. It followed a successful 2016 campaign with the Spanish team Caja Rural team, winning the Vuelta a Asturias and placing ninth in the Volta a Catalunya. He had support, but in Cannondale-Drapac it will be taken to another level.
The Australian won one of the biggest amateur stage races, the 2015 Giro della Valle d’Aosta, but a rare bone marrow disease put his professional debut on hold this year.
Insiders still consider him one of the biggest stage race promises from Australia in a long time. He began with Orica-BikeExchange towards the end of this summer, but 2017 will be the first chance for him to show what he is capable of in the professional ranks.
Adam and Simon Yates, and Esteban Chaves dominate the team’s stage race stable, but their experience should rub off on Power. If all goes well, Power could pull off an early one-day win and a top-10 in an HC-ranked stage race.
Miguel Angel Lopez
‘Superman’ already made his mark with an impressive Tour de Suisse win at 22-years-old this summer. The win confirmed the talent he showed when he won the 2014 Tour de l’Avenir.
Astana took him to his first grand tour, the Vuelta a España, but he fell on his face and broke three teeth. He continued, but had to pull the plug after one week. Bad luck continued this off-season when he broke his tibia.
What is clear: he has talent. Astana will support Fabio Aru in Giro d’Italia, but Lopez will go for other stage races and the Tour de France.
The German rode to an amazing 21st overall in the Tour de France with team Bora-Argon 18 this summer. It underlined what the German team had been thinking, that this is one of the country’s best stage race talents since Jan Ullrich.
“He’s the most talented German GC guy,” General Manager Ralph Denk said. “He’s young, 24, but one year ago he was the national champion and then the Tour. He has a great future ahead of him. It’s my goal to develop him.”
Denk promised that when Sagan’s not leading the team, others like Buchmann will have their chance.
Movistar put its faith into Rubén Fernández with a new three-year deal this autumn. It had reason to, he won the 2013 Tour de l’Avenir and this year, wore the leader’s jersey and was one of Nairo Quintana’s strongest climbing domestiques in the Vuelta.
The 25-year-old could be leading on his own soon as he is tapped as Spain’s next grand tour star after Contador. This year, he placed sixth in the Tour Down Under, the Tour of Poland and the Vuelta a Burgos.
Movistar said, “He’s one of the best climbers and future stars of Spanish cycling.” This month, however, he suffered a setback with when he broke his jaw while training.