Teams invested in new riders over the last winter with success in mind, but not every transfer went to plan in the 2018 season.
Marcel Kittel and others suffered to come up to speed in their new teams, perhaps ready to turn the tables for 2019.
Many were successful, but below we look at the five transfer failures of this last season.
Marcel Kittel (Katusha-Alpecin)
Kittel pulled in numerous wins for Quick-Step: 13 in 2016 and 14 in 2017. In the 2017 Tour, he came home as the most successful sprinter with five wins.
Patrick Lefevere needed to create some space for Fernando Gaviria, and Marcel Kittel went to Katusha last winter. However, in the team’s red colours, it has not gone as well as he and the team would have hoped.
In 2018, sprinted to only two wins: two stages in Tirreno-Adriatico. The team and Kittel said that they were working first on the dynamics, and later victories. Kittel began to build his train with Rick Zabel and Marco Haller. It worked, but never hit top speed when needed.
He missed the time cut in the Tour’s stage 11 and pulled the plug early on his season in August.
Fabio Aru (UAE Team Emirates)
Aru underlined a bad season when he cursed his new team’s bike suppler, Colnago, following a crash in the Vuelta a España. The live television burst showed to the world that Aru was well down the wrong track in UAE Team Emirates.
The Italian, winner of the 2015 Vuelta a España, aimed for the Giro d’Italia. In 2017 with Astana, he had to skip the Giro due to a crash beforehand. This year, he suffered throughout and pulled the plug in stage 19, citing fatigue.
It remains unclear exactly what caused Aru’s problems. Aru says was partly his diet, which he and the team worked on. He returned in the Vuelta a España, using it heading to the World Championships. However, he managed only 23rd and pulled himself out of selection for the Italian worlds team.
Warren Barguil (Fortuneo-Samsic)
Team Fortuneo made a big investment home star from Brittany, Warren Barguil. The Frenchman won the Tour de France’s mountains jersey and the Foix and Izoard stage the year before with Team Sunweb. His performance also helped him place 10th overall.
Team Sunweb needed toclear some space with other stars like Tom Dumoulin and Michael Matthews. Barguil found a perfect fit in Fortuneo, a professional continental team that could use the boost to receive a Tour wildcard invitation and points throughout the season.
Barguil helped the team to its Tour selection, but failed to bring in much else. His biggest achievement was second in the Tour’s mountain classification and third place in the GP Wallonie.
He indicated staff issues in the team and equipment problems, the latter led to the team switching bike suppliers just before the Tour from Look to BH. He signed a three-year contract, so the 27-year-old should have time to right the course in Team Fortuneo.
Daniel McLay (EF Education First-Drapac)
Such was the season, many wondered if Brit Dan McLay would stay with EF Education in 2019. He ended speculation earlier this month, putting a message on Twitter: “Yes, I’m staying with EF.”
The jump to the WorldTour came at the right time. McLay earned his way with wins and a third place in the Tour de France stage racing for team Fortuneo. The 2017 season was tough, but he pulled off a Tour de l’Eurométropole victory and announced his move to EF in a 24-hour window.
He sprinted to victory in the Circuit Cycliste Sarthe in April. In big events like Paris-Nice, Milan-San Remo and Ghent-Wevelgem, he abandoned early. He returned with a stage win in Pays de la Loire, but that was it for 2018. The good news, he remains with EF Education for another chance in 2019.
Edward Theuns (Sunweb)
This transfer clearly failed when Theuns and Sunweb agreed in October to terminate the two-year contract early. The 27-year-old should have led the Sunweb team and helped Michael Matthews. It looked promising at first, he placed sixth in the Omloop Het Nieuwsblad.
After struggling though the rest of the year, it was clear something was wrong. Then the October press release came: “It has been a tough year for me, both physically and mentally with some crashes and bad luck. I tried to adapt to the team’s way of working, but it didn’t really work out for me. We differ in vision so we decided that it would be best to end the contract,” Theuns said.
Theuns is making a U-turn back to Trek, who signed him on a one-year contract. He should have his own chances along with helping John Degenkolb and Jasper Stuyven in the Classics.