Cycling’s transfer season officially opens August 1, but behind closed doors many contracts – like Mikel Landa to Movistar and Mikel Nieve to Orica-Scott – are already signed ready to announce on Tuesday.
According to UCI rules, teams and riders must wait until August 1 to sign new riders for the coming season. However many will sign a pre-contract or the actual contract which comes into effect later.
At any point, a team may renew their riders’ contracts. Team Sunweb have already done so with Tom Dumoulin through to 2022 after his Giro d’Italia win. Team Sky also re-signed Chris Froome before the Tour de France and, though yet announced, did the same with star helper Michal Kwiatkowski.
Mikel Landa, fourth at the Tour, has, according to Cycling Weekly‘s sources, signed with Movistar. He said that if he joins, he would likely race the Giro and Nairo Quintana the Tour in 2018. Argentine Eduardo Sepulveda should also join the Spanish team.
In return, Spanish team Movistar will lose Gorka Izagirre, who should join his brother Ion Izaguirre at Bahrain-Merida, and Jonathan Castroviejo, the current and three-time Spanish time trial champion, who is linked with Team Sky. As he did for Quintana, Sky could utilise him to support Grand Tour contenders Froome and Geraint Thomas.
Sky are also due to announce young stage race talents Egan Bernal from Androni Giocattoli and Pavel Sivakov from the amateur ranks. The 20-year-old Colombian placed ninth overall behind Thomas and won the young rider classification in the Tour of the Alps this year. Russian Sivakov, also 20, won the amateur Giro d’Italia and Giro della Valle d’Aosta this year.
Former Italian rider Matteo Tosatto has also joined Sky as a sports director, specifically to work with the classics team and upcoming talent Gianni Moscon.
Orica-Scott will add Nieve and Italian Matteo Trentin to their roster. Nieve was often Froome’s second-to-last domestique in the mountains at the Tour and last year won a stage and the mountains jersey at the Giro.
Belgian newspaper Het Nieuwsblad reported Trentin’s move on Friday, with the Italian wanting to lead a Classics team.
The newspaper also said that Jens Keukeleire will leave Orica for Lotto Soudal, who will lose Jürgen Roelandts to BMC Racing, who themselves could be losing Daniel Oss to Bora-Hansgrohe and Alessandro De Marchi to UAE Team Emirates.
UAE Team Emirates will likely make the biggest transfer deal this year with Italian champion Fabio Aru. Insiders confirmed Aru’s switch after six years with Astana, where he won the 2015 Vuelta a España, placed second in the Giro and just closed the Tour in fifth.
Aru is due to race the Vuelta, but general manager Alexander Vinokourov may leave him off the roster as revenge for not re-signing.
The Arabian team are also said to have signed Dan Martin, sixth in the Tour, from Quick-Step Floors. However Elia Viviani may not be joining, but instead staying with Sky despite being unhappy about not racing in the Giro.
Astana had their eyes on Colombian Rigoberto Urán, second in the Tour behind Froome and Frenchman Warren Barguil, with his two stage wins and the polka-dot jersey, as replacements.
Italian website Tutto Bici, however, reported that Urán renewed with Cannondale-Drapac in the last week. Barguil is expected to leave Sunweb and beef up second division French team Fortuneo-Oscaro.
Vinokourov reportedly has deals in place with Magnus Cort Nielsen from Orica-Scott, and Omar Fraile from Dimension Data. He is also bringing on board Davide Villella from Cannondale-Drapac and Jan Hirt from CCC Sprandi-Polkowice, 12th in the Giro in May.
Norwegian sprinter Alexander Kristoff has also reportedly signed a deal with Vinokourov’s Astana outfit. He will leave behind Katusha-Alpecin, where relationships soured and space will be freed for German sprint rival Marcel Kittel.
South African WorldTour team Dimension Data wanted home stage race talent Louis Meintjes when Lampre appeared to be closing, but now have their man according to our sources. The 25-year-old challenged Simon Yates for the white jersey in the Tour, placing second, and eighth overall in the general classification behind Froome.