As the 2017 season comes to a close with Il Lombardia and stage races in Turkey and China, a handful of WorldTour riders remain without contracts for the 2018 season. Among them are Tour de France and Vuelta a España stage winners, and a Critérium du Dauphiné victor.
Here are five top riders still free to talk to teams for next season:
Alexey Vermeulen (LottoNL-Jumbo)
Alexey Vermeulen spent five hours in the escape during the Road World Championships for team USA and for a 2018 contract. The 22-year-old’s current two-year deal with Dutch WorldTour team LottoNL-Jumbo is at its end with no hope for renewal insight.
He told Peloton magazine: “I am as motivated as I have ever been to stay at the top level of the sport. I look forward to proving that they made the wrong decision!”
Teams looking for a developing helper in stage races could do well to hire Vermeulen because he climbs and time trials well. This year, he helped George Bennett win the Tour of California overall and his team-mate Koen Bouwman win the Critérium du Dauphiné stage to Tullins. After his work, he held on to place fifth in Tullins.
Marco Coledan (Trek-Segafredo)
Marco Coledan, silver medallist in the 2015 Madison World Championships with Elia Viviani, will no longer race for Trek in 2018. The team announced its roster last week without the Italian’s name.
Coledan had a string of top placings that earned him a place with Trek-Segafredo for 2015. Perhaps he is known better for his involvement in the ‘Pay-to-Race’ case in Italy, where his former team manager at Bardiani and others were found to have accepted money for team contracts and charged additional money for riders to break their contacts. Coledan was suspended for 15 days for not testifying.
The 29-year-old, without any major results recently, may be forced to leave the top WorldTour ranks for a Professional Continental team.
Matti Breschel (Astana)
Matti Breschel for years served as a domestique in the Grand Tours and in the classics alongside Fabian Cancellara and others in teams Saxo Bank/Tinkoff, Rabobank and Cannondale. The Dane even has a Vuelta a España stage win and a trophy from the Dwars door Vlaanderen.
However, after one year with Astana, he is looking for a new team. Danish newspaper Ekstra Bladet reported an unnamed source as saying that the 33-year-old’s time is over in the team’s blue colours.
“Matti will continue to race at the top-level,” said his agent and dad, Tom Breschel. “Right now we have nothing in place, but there is some time. However, it has not been easy given teams will be cut from nine to eight riders in the Grand Tours. That means many teams will cut two to three men out of their rosters.”
Christophe Riblon (Ag2r La Mondiale)
After two stages wins and 13 years together, Ag2r La Mondiale will not continue with Frenchman Christophe Riblon in 2018. The 36-year-old is looking to continue racing, but remains doubtful.
“Honestly, I have no complaints,” he told L’Equipe. “[General Manager] Vincent Lavenu helped me to pass pro [in 2005], he believed in me when I was already 24 years old.
“I’m still confident that I can be very good, that I can help a captain… If it ends here, I’d feel it’s too soon even if I’ve been doing it for 13 years.”
Riblon said that this May and June he had his best power numbers in five years. However, Ag2r is passing on handing him a new contract and is building a team around Romain Bardet, third overall in the last Tour.
Janez Brajkovic (Bahrain-Merida)
Slovenian Janez Brajkovic, 33, is looking for a new team after one year in the new Bahrain-Merida squad.
The small climber won his home race, the 2012 Tour of Slovenia, the 2010 Critérium du Dauphiné and back in 2007, the Tour of Georgia. This year, he led Bahrain in the overall classification at the Tour de France, recording 45th. The result was far from the ninth place he achieved in 2012.
The Tour of Guangxi in China is his last planned race with Bahrain. However, do not expect him to fade away. He stepped down before to the second-tier Professional Continental ranks with United Healthcare after years racing for Discovery Channel, RadioShack and Astana, and still returned to the top.
Bahrain-Merida’s Jon Insausti is looking, as well. Ondrej Cink after one year racing professional on the road, will leave the team and return to mountain bikes.