By Gregor Brown
At the Giro d'Italia, the first Grand Tour of the year, the transfer season kicks into full swing as riders and teams make enquiries and chat about potential moves and deals.
Our man on the ground in Italy, Gregor Brown, has the latest on the already confirmed transfers as well as who's potentially about to put pen to paper with a brand new team for next season.
Russian grand tour rider Ilnur Zakarin will leave Katusha-Alpecin at the end of 2019 for CCC, sources close to the deal confirmed to Cycling Weekly.
The Zakarin/CCC deal is part of a flurry of moves taking place at the Giro, including Sam Bennett (Bora-Hansgrohe), Nairo Quintana (Movistar) and Giro d'Italia race leader Richard Carapaz (Movistar).
Deals already done, though not yet announced due to cycling's August 1 transfer date, include Vincenzo Nibali (Bahrain-Merida) to Trek-Segafredo and Mikel Landa (Movistar) to Bahrain-Merida.
Zakarin now joins that list. The 29-year-old already placed third in the Vuelta a España in 2017 behind winner Chris Froome and Vincenzo Nibali. And in the 2019 Giro d'Italia, he won the Lago Serrù summit finish stage last week.
CCC, who are backed by a Polish company, wanted Pole Michał Kwiatkowski from Team Ineos. Kwiatkowski asked for a good deal, but according to a source close to the move CCC lacked the budget to sign top tier riders for Grand Tours and Classics at the moment.
Katusha have said they will continue as a team, despite some agents and insiders casting doubts over the outfit's future. Agents for the riders within the team are uncertain as to what is happening. The team had star Tour de France sprinter Marcel Kittel, who recently quit the outfit to take some time out from the sport.
Rumours had been circling that Sam Bennett would sign for Katusha-Alpecin. Bennett won three stages in the 2018 Giro d'Italia but his Bora-Hansgrohe team left him out of the 2019 race, instead taking Pascal Ackermann who has won two stages, and have also decided not to take Bennett to the Tour de France, with Peter Sagan aiming for that race.
Bennett apparently has three options. The Irish sprinter may sign for Deceuninck - Quick Step, with Elia Viviani continuing on the same or at least similar contract, or he may join Dimension Data.
Mark Cavendish's future at Dimension Data remains unclear. Bennett's other option, according to one source, is to stay put at Bora-Hansgrohe.
Nairo Quintana will leave Team Movistar after wining the Giro d'Italia and Vuelta a España with the Spanish team in the past. The Colombian already confirmed this in January off the record at the Vuelta a San Juan, but exactly where he is going is yet to be completely decided.
Team Arkéa Samsic, second division team, has offered him a full package of support staff and riders, and the money he needs. The French team appears to be the destination of the Colombian instead of previously rumoured UAE Team Emirates.
Richard Carapaz was said to be joining Team Ineos, however, that deal appears to be uncertain at best. Eusebio Unzué and Movistar, with Landa and Quintana leaving, want to keep Carapaz, who is on the verge of winning the 2019 Giro. Carapaz, and Enric Mas who is apparently coming over from Deceuninck - Quick Step, would lead Movistar into 2020.
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