Fernando Gaviria to UAE Team Emirates
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It seems bizarre that a team as all-conquering as Quick-Step Floors are obliged by severe enough budgetary constraints to have to let go of arguably their best rider, but that’s the reality of the situation as Fernando Gaviria departs for UAE Team Emirates.
Given the team’s recent failure to bring the best out of its previous major signings like Alexander Kristoff and Fabio Aru, this transfer could go one of two ways – either Gaviria will be a new star name for the team to rally around and give them a new identity as one of the major forces in bunch sprints, or the prodigious Colombian will see his rapid rise stall in a team unsuited to nurturing his talent.
Caleb Ewan to Lotto-Soudal
Gaviria isn’t the only top young sprinter to have found a new home for 2019 – Caleb Ewan has also moved, from Mitchelton-Scott to Lotto-Soudal.
It’s easy to see the mutual benefits in this transfer – Ewan is one of the few sprinters around capable of filling the void left by André Greipel. Lotto-Soudal’s long-term talisman departs after seven prolific years; and Lotto-Soudal are one of the few top teams with no obvious GC contender, meaning they will prioritise Ewan’s sprinting ambitions and give him leadership duties at the Tour, after he was not even selected last year by a Mitchelton-Scott team increasingly focussed on GC bids.
Lizzie Deignan to Trek Factory Racing
Trek-Segafredo are aiming to be a major new player in the women’s peloton next season, and have assembled a star-studded roster including Elisa Longo Borghini, Ellen van Dijk and, most eye-catchingly, Lizzie Deignan.
Breaking the Boels-Dolmans monopoly is the challenge facing all teams, and Trek-Segafredo have pulled off a major coup and made a bold statement of intent by signing one of the Dutch team’s top riders.
What makes this transfer especially intriguing is the question of how well Deignan will return following the birth of her first child. Can she lead her new team and be a thorn in the side of her old employees? Or will she struggle to recapture her pre-childbirth form? Time will tell when she returns to the road sometime next season.
Richie Porte to Trek-Segafredo
Trek’s men’s equivalent team are also aiming high for next year, having signed Richie Porte in a bid to become a force in Grand Tour again.
Porte’s career has reached a strange crossroads. He continues to excel in week long stage races, but is set to turn 34 in January and is therefore running out of time to at last produce the kind of Grand Tour performance he has promised for years.
A bigger team with more potential Grand Tour candidates might have been reluctant to commit to backing Porte at the Tour de France, but at Trek-Segafredo he’ll find whole-hearted support. Will this be the year he finally makes the podium?
Jolien d’Hoore to Boels-Dolmans
To help compensate for the loss of Lizzie Deignan and the retiring Megan Guarnier, Boels-Dolmans have added Jolien d’Hoore to their books for 2019.
She’ll enhance an already formidable looking roster, especially in the classics. It’s hard to imagine how a team that won six of last year’s nine WorldTour-ranked spring Classics could become even more dominant, but d’Hoore’s sprinting ability will add another deadly string to their bow. While the likes of Anna van der Breggen and Chantal Blaak will attack, d’Hoore can take a back seat and ponce if things come back together for a sprint.
Niki Terpstra to Direct Energie
Another big name departure from Quick-Step Floors is Niki Terpstra, who surprisingly drops out of the WorldTour altogether to help guarantee Direct Energie some wild card invitations for next season.
The Dutchman enjoyed his season in 2018, but it’s worth noting that the major victories he picked up – most notably at the Tour of Flanders – were achieved in a co-leadership role, where he could benefit from the strength of his team-mates without having to deal with the pressure of being the sole protected rider.
Repeating that success in a weaker team where the onus will be squarely on him to deliver will be a whole new challenge for the 34-year old.
Ashleigh Moolman-Pasio to CCC
The team formerly known as WaowDeals – and, before that, Rabo-Liv – will be taken over by Polish sponsors CCC for 2019.
Star rider Marianne Vos remains, but it may be new signing Ashleigh Moolman-Pasio who represents the team’s best chance of major results.
The South African has gradually improved over the years to become one of the peloton’s best riders, although she is still more defined by her consistency than big wins – while finishing second at the Giro Rosa and the Flèche Wallonne, and fourth at the Tour of Flanders and Liège-Bastogne-Liège monuments, she didn’t actually manage a single WorldTour-ranked victory last year.
The move is perhaps one of a sideways trajectory rather than upwards, but it will be interesting to see if the new environment can help Moolman-Pasio break into the peloton’s very elite.
Michael Valgren to Dimension Data
Last spring, Michael Valgren announced himself as one of the hottest young talents in the peloton by sealing a rare double of Amstel Gold and Omloop Het Nieuwsblad, so it come as something as a surprise to see him take an apparent step down to Dimension Data for next season.
Given their lacklustre last couple of seasons, Dimension Data did well to persuade the Dane to join, and are beginning to look like a force to be reckoned with in the Ardennes Classics at least following the additional purchases of Roman Kreuziger and Enrico Gasparotto (both of whom are also former Amstel Gold winners).
The team are in desperate need of a boost – perhaps Valgren can be the one to deliver it.