10 riders to watch out for in 2017

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.

>>> 100 Best Road Riders of 2016

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.

Alberto Contador

Trek-Segafredo, Spain

Alberto Contador. Photo: Yuzuru Sunada

Alberto Contador. Photo: Yuzuru Sunada
(Image credit: Yuzuru SUNADA)

The 33-year-old 'Pistolero' appeared ready to retire at one point, but then found new motivation in changing teams for one last try at winning a fourth Tour de France title.

>>> 100 Best Road Riders of 2016: 21-30

"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."

John Degenkolb

Trek-Segafredo, Germany

John Degenkolb took his frist single-day race victory of the season at the Munsterland Giro in Germany, showing that he's back on form after January's horror training crash where he nearly lost a finger.

John Degenkolb. Photo: Graham Watson
(Image credit: Graham Watson)

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."

Ben Swift

TJ-Lampre, Great Britain

Ben Swift

Ben Swift. Photo: Graham Watson
(Image credit: Graham Watson)

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.

>>> 100 Best Road Riders of 2016: 91-100

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.

Filippo Ganna

TJ-Lampre, Italy

Filippo Ganna

Filippo Ganna. Photo: Graham Watson
(Image credit: Watson)

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.

Owain Doull

Team Sky, Great Britain

Owain Doull on stage four of the 2016 Abu Dhabi Tour

Owain Doull. Photo: Graham Watson
(Image credit: Watson)

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".

Hugh Carthy

Cannondale-Drapac, Great Britain

Hugh Carthy attacks on stage one of the 2016 Vuelta Asturias

Hugh Carthy. Photo: Graham Watson
(Image credit: Watson)

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.

Robert Power

Orica-BikeExchange, Australia

Robert Power. Photo: Yuzuru Sunada

Robert Power. Photo: Yuzuru Sunada
(Image credit: Yuzuru SUNADA)

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

Astana, Colombia

Miguel Angel Lopez wins the 2016 Milan Turin

Miguel Angel Lopez. Photo: Graham Watson
(Image credit: Watson)

'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.

>>> 100 Best Road Riders of 2016: 41-50

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.

Emanuel Buchmann

Bora-Hansgrohe, Germany

Emanuel Buchmann. Photo: Yuzuru Sunada

Emanuel Buchmann. Photo: Yuzuru Sunada
(Image credit: Yuzuru SUNADA)

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.

Rubén Fernández

Movistar, Spain

Rubén Fernández. Photo: Yuzuru Sunada

Rubén Fernández. Photo: Yuzuru Sunada
(Image credit: Yuzuru SUNADA)

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.


Thank you for reading 10 articles this month* Join now for unlimited access

Enjoy your first month for just £1 / $1 / €1

*Read 5 free articles per month without a subscription

Join now for unlimited access

Try first month for just £1 / $1 / €1

Gregor Brown

Gregor Brown is an experienced cycling journalist, based in Florence, Italy. He has covered races all over the world for over a decade - following the Giro, Tour de France, and every major race since 2006. His love of cycling began with freestyle and BMX, before the 1998 Tour de France led him to a deep appreciation of the road racing season.