The end of the 2020 season may come as a relief for some riders who know they have a contact for the 2021 season, but there are hundreds of others still waiting to sign new deals.
The global pandemic has meant that riders who are out of contract at the end of 2020 have not had much time time to put themselves in the shop window, and with teams folding or riders simply not wanted anymore, it can be hard to find a new team.
Some riders have had truly spectacular seasons but are still yet to open their pencil case to sign on the dotted line.
Grand Tour riders like Tao Geoghegan Hart and Rigoberto Urán to superstars of the women’s peloton like Lisa Brennauer, are all yet to sign.
Here are just some of the riders who are currently without a contract for the 2021 season:
It has been yet another tough year for the Manx Missile Mark Cavendish who has once again struggled to find the form he had before developing the Epstein-Barr virus.
After giving an emotional interview after Ghent-Wevelgem where he said it may have been his last race, he then raced the Scheldeprijs and the Tour of Flanders, getting into the break of the former with the 30-time Tour de France stage winner feeling positive about how he was feeling on the bike.
But, Bahrain-McLaren, who themselves are losing headline sponsor McLaren, have now announced who will be staying on with the team as it changes it’s name to Bahrain Victorious for 2021, but Cav was not on the list.
The rumours of where the Brit would go have been all over the place with both Sir Dave Brailsford and Patrick Lefevere of Ineos Grenadiers and Deceuninck – Quick-Step respectively both saying they love the idea of signing him but also say they can’t.
So what does the, arguably, greatest sprinter of all time do next? Some have suggested he should return to fully focusing on the track, only time will tell what he decides.
Edvald Boasson Hagen
Always a reliable rider but perhaps has fallen away with his form in recent years, Edvald Boasson Hagen is a super talent and an incredibly strong rider, but he does seem to have lost his way at NTT Pro Cycling.
The multiple Grand Tour stage winner left what then was Team Sky to join MTN-Qhubeka, this worked wonderfully with Boasson Hagen taking a few Tour de France victories as well as others.
But in the last year or so the Norwegian star hasn’t quite found those legs again and is a bit on the fringes, maybe having to settle back to being a lead out man, like he was at HTC-Columbia.
No news has really come through about the future of NTT, but members of the team seem a lot more optimistic now than they were a month or so ago.
Boasson Hagen is not the only Classics rider on the hunt for a contract, Alexey Lutsenko, Michael Valgren, Silvan Dillier and several others still without a home.
Mr Consistent, Rigoberto Urán is a hugely experienced rider who has managed podiums in multiple Grand Tours as well as several top results in the Ardennes and elsewhere.
A rider perhaps past his peak, he is surely worth signing simply for his experience and he still came eighth in the Tour de France this year after Dani Martínez crashed out of contention for yellow.
But with only six races in his legs this season, he hasn’t really had a huge chance to really show what he can do still.
It is most likely that he will re-sign with EF Pro Cycling as potential support to their new Grand Tour star, Hugh Carthy, but we will have to wait and see what the Mick Jagger lookalike does.
Urán isn’t the only Colombian climber to be hunting for a contract, Miguel Ángel López, Sergio Henao and Carlos Betancur are also trying to find a team.
One of the more surprising on the vast list of riders is Tao Geoghegan-Hart, who had an unbelievable season. He started it with only two career wins, both at last year’s Tour of the Alps, where he finished third overall.
This year though, he has added two stages and the overall at the Giro d’Italia after his team leader, Geraint Thomas crashed out.
There have been plenty asking what’s next for Tao at Ineos, well first he needs to sign a contract with them. Now he has a GT on his palmarès, he can ask for a bit more money, which possibly why he is yet to announce a renewal.
The current best time triallist in the world, Filippo Ganna, has been untouchable on the TT bike and looking at his form at the Giro on the road bike as well.
The young Italian has had an incredible season with Ineos Grenadiers, taking the final time trial at Tirreno-Adriatico, the World Championships TT and then four stages of the Giro d’Italia including his first road stage victory.
Again, much like Tao, an increase in wages may be the reason why Ganna has not yet signed a new deal with the British team.
Another superstar of Ineos Grenadiers, Michał Kwiatkowski, has once again shown his class on the bike, even when Egan Bernal left the Tour de France, he was then helping Richard Carapaz to try and take the king of the mountains jersey and taking a stage himself.
He also had a very solid Classics campaign where he was the main leader for his team, being beaten by the untouchables of Mathieu van der Poel, Wout van Aert and Julian Alaphilippe on almost every occasion.
The former World Champion may be looking at his options now, he has developed into a superb climber as well as classics rider while with Ineos, so he could possibly have a tilt at moving team and being a team leader.
With some riders who leave Ineos going onto huge things, others have flopped or haven’t really performed, again, it may just be about money on his contract.
Other Ineos riders looking for a team are Giro d’Italia stage winner, Jhonatan Narváez, veteran German Christian Knees, zsuper-domestique Cameron Wurf and Classics rider Leonardo Basso.
Aside from Arnaud Démare, this man has arguably been the most in form sprinter of the year. Taking four wins and another 15 podiums, Giacomo Nizzolo has had an amazing season.
But the European and Italian road race champion’s team, NTT Pro Cycling, is still yet to find a team, so he has found himself without a ride for 2021.
Whether he has been told that the team will have a sponsor for next season or not is not clear, but he has yet to announce anything related to changing colours, so it must be a good sign for the South African-registered team.
Some other sprinters on the list of riders without a new team are Nizzolo’s team mate Reinhardt Janse Van Rensburg, Jakub Mareczko, Sebastián Molano, Martin Laas and others.
With over 100 career wins on the road, Kirsten Wild is possibly the greatest sprinter of her generation in women’s cycling.
But this year she has suffered various set-backs. The main one was her being unable to defend her Ghent-Wevelgem and Three Days of De Panne titles due to a positive coronavirus test.
She has only raced once all season at the Giro Rosa where her best place away from the team time trial was 84th on stages six and nine.
The multiple track world champion hasn’t lost her speed, she just hasn’t had the opportunity to show that she still has it.
Whether she will be able to get a contract in this current climate is unclear, but a rider of her talent should be able to find a team.
Straight off the back of winning the Ceratizit Challenge by La Vuelta for a second year in a row, Lisa Brennauer has had a superb season.
She has managed to get 16 top tens in the twelve races she has raced at this season with four wins. Brennauer is one of the best all-rounders of the sport.
A fantastic time triallist, which she showed just recently at the Ceratizit Challenge where she beat Annemiek van Vleuten and Ellen van Dijk in a TT, but also a talented rider on the short climbs and a superb sprinter.
The current German road race champion surely will be riding again next year in a women’s peloton that will look very different with different teams and some big riders either retiring or moving teams.
The former World, European and Italian champion, Marta Bastianelli, has attended 16 races this season, not finishing four of them.
She also, much like Kirsten Wild, was unable to attend the Classics of Ghent-Welvelgem and Three Days of De Panne due to her whole team isolating with a Covid-19 outbreak.
She did manage one win right at the start of the year at the Vuelta CV Feminas, but has not managed to take a win since.
She managed two second places in the early classics before the global lockdown but has since been struggling to get on top of her form.
With a fourth at GP Plouay and a third place on the final stage of the Ceratizit Challenge being her best results.
Hannah and Alice Barnes
Hannah Barnes has ridden 16 races this season but has not managed to take victory, the closest she came was a second place on stage six of the Giro Rosa where she sprinted just behind Marianne Vos.
Away from that, she got a superb sixth place at Liège-Bastogne-Liège which was won by fellow Brit, Lizzie Deignan.
Meanwhile, her younger sister Alice has ridden 14 races, she also did not manage to take a win but has put in some superb rides as well – inside the top 11 on every stage of the Ceratizit Challenge, taking second place on the final stage of the Giro Rosa and an excellent sixth place at the Three Days of De Panne.
Their team, Canyon-SRAM, has yet to re-sign a number of their riders with Alena Amialiusik, Pauline Ferrand-Prevot, Tiffany Cromwell and Lisa Klein being a few other top names yet to have their ride for next season confirmed.
Other big names looking for a team are Amber Neben, Olga Zabelinskaya, Elisa Balsamo, Grace Brown, Arlenis Sierra, Mavi García and several more.