Rohan Dennis move sparks rider transfer debate

Australian debuts with BMC after unique mid-season departure from Garmin-Sharp

Rohan Dennis will make his debut with BMC Racing at the Eneco Tour today after embarking on a rare mid-season transfer from Garmin-Sharp earlier this month.

The International Cycling Union (UCI) acknowledges an August 1-15 window in which riders can move between teams though it has hardly ever been engaged with off-season changeovers all but exclusively observed.

>> Subscribe to Cycling Weekly this Autumn and save 35%. Enjoy the luxury of home delivery and never miss an issue <<

Trinity Sports Management director and intermediary Andrew McQuaid oversaw the amicable agreement between the two WorldTour teams that allowed Dennis to begin competing immediately with BMC, which he was set to join in 2015.

“It’s hard to get agreement between all parties involved. Apart from that I don’t know why it’s not used more,” McQuaid said of the in-season transfer period. “[Alessandro] Petacchi last year was a bit different in that he retired [from Lampre-Merida in April] and came back [with Omega Pharma-Quick Step in August]. Apparently there was some rider in the 80s that did a mid-season swap but, in my knowledge, this is the first one that has been done by the rules.

“It’s budget as well,” he continued. “BMC had to takeover his salary, and not many teams do have surplus budget each year, so they can’t afford to take them [riders] because they plan year-on-year.”

Garmin-Sharp general manager Jonathan Vaughters was ultimately responsive to the move and has used the Dennis case, amongst other instances, to encourage debate on the WorldTour transfer system and whether it should be revised.

Current rules stipulate rider transfers cannot be formally announced nor certified outside the specified August 1 to December 31 time frames. However, as Peter Sagan’s impending move from Cannondale to Tinkoff-Saxo is evidence of, non-formal agreements can be negotiated well before the period. Tinkoff-Saxo publicised a lucrative three-year deal with the triple Tour de France maillot vert winner last week though it was later reported talks with the Slovak began over a year ago.

McQuaid obviously is supportive of making use of the August 1-15 window adding there is no risk of sponsor dependant teams becoming destabilised in such an instance where a rider transfers during the season.

“I don’t think it’s quite mid-season in August. That’s a bit deceptive. By that time a lot of the racing is done,” he said.

“The way the current rules are set-up it doesn’t destabilise teams because it can only happen if all teams agree to it; if the teams don’t agree to it then it doesn’t happen.”

Dennis cited an opportunity to work with Australian compatriot and BMC sporting manager Allan Peiper, who will be at the Eneco Tour, as one impetus for the transfer. The chance to compete at the upcoming Vuelta a Espana was also a consideration.

“It just makes sense if the rider is going to the team for the next year anyway,” McQuaid said.

“Obviously Garmin – or whatever team it is – want to keep working with riders that they know are going to be with them in the future. When it gets to August and September there’s usually a lot of riders on a team that want to ride a Grand Tour and haven’t yet.

“When you know you’re signing for another team for the year after, even if it’s sub-consciously, there are different loyalties so it just makes sense,” he added.

The Eneco Tour features three flat and three mountainous stages as well as a 9.6km time trial on Wednesday, which should suit London Olympic team pursuit silver medallist, Dennis’s strengths.

Twitter: @SophieSmith86

Eneco Tour 2014: Who will win

The Eneco Tour starts on Monday, August 11, here's our guide to the WorldTour stage race in the low countries.