By Jonny Long
Hear that? It's the transfer rumour mill whirring into life.
Just as we'd all got used to seeing riders who had changed employers over the winter in the strips of their new teams, the whole process kicks into gear once more.
Riders chopping and changing teams during clandestine restaurant meetings, a series of zeros written on the underside of a napkin and carefully slid across the table...okay that last one may be pushing it.
But as the cycling press rifles through the bins of agents, piecing together shredded email correspondence to find out where Alex Aranburu is heading next year (promise we'll stop now), rumours of which riders are heading where start to emerge. Here's a round-up of all the hearsay so far.
Elia Viviani to EOLO-Kometa?
Elia Viviani has struggled for victories since joining Cofidis from Deceuninck - Quick-Step in 2020, having only recently broken his duck, winning Choley - Pays de la Loire in March earlier this year.
Next year, the Italian is said to be joining upstarts EOLO-Kometa, the ProTeam of the same nationality backed by Ivan Basso and Alberto Contador. Encouraged by Lorenzo Fortunato's win atop the Zoncolan at the recent Giro d'Italia, the team's first Grand Tour, they will expedite their growth by not only signing a top talent in Viviani, but also adding a U23 and women's outfit to their organisation. Basso shared a picture of the Gazzetta dello Sport detailing these plans, so it must be correct, right?
Vincenzo Nibali to Deceuninck - Quick-Step or Astana?
Another high-profile Italian on the move, again according to those soothsayers at Gazzetta, is Vincenzo Nibali. After spending the past two seasons at Trek-Segafredo, the 36-year-old is destined for pastures new, with Deceuninck - Quick-Step and Astana - Premier Tech the two likeliest options.
Deceuninck - Quick-Step are apparently interested in bringing Nibali in to mentor Evenepoel, as the Belgian team look to mould the young star into a Grand Tour winner, although Nibali's salary demands could prove a sticking point for boss Patrick Lefevere, as would be the Italian's own personal staff, a factor that made Peter Sagan's transfer fall apart.
A return to Astana is also on the cards, and more likely, giving Nibali the opportunity to work once again with the staff that oversaw the most successful period of his career from 2013 to 2016.
Rohan Dennis to Jumbo-Visma or UAE Team Emirates?
Rohan Dennis is not expected to renew with Ineos Grenadiers when the Australian's contract is up at the end of the year, according to Gazzetta's Ciro Scognamiglio. T Their rivals Jumbo-Visma are interested but the front runner at the moment is UAE Team Emirates.
Given how the former world time trial champion shepherded Tao Geoghegan Hart through the final stages to claim the maglia rosa at last year's Giro d'Italia, he would go a long way to helping both interested parties continue on their path towards breaking Ineos' Grand Tour hegemony.
Christophe Laporte to Jumbo-Visma?
Jumbo-Visma sports director Merijn Zeeman is said to be in the market for two riders as good as Mike Teunissen to support Wout van Aert as the Dutch team look to bolster their spring Classics squad.
A specific request maybe, but Dutch publication Wielerflits understands that Cofidis' Christophe Laporte is one rider they've identified and are keen to bring in, the Frenchman having impressed and already taken a couple of wins for himself this season.
Sam Bennett to Bora-Hansgrohe or Ineos Grenadiers?
Sam Bennett's future will be one watched closely, set to leave Deceuninck - Quick-Step after a successful debut season with the Belgian squad where he proved he is one of if not the pre-eminent sprinters in the professional peloton.
A return to Bora-Hansgrohe, the German team Bennett left to secure a ride in the Tour de France, subsequently winning multiple stages and taking the green jersey from Peter Sagan, has been mooted, with Sagan seemingly on his way out of that structure.
More surprisingly, Ineos Grenadiers are also interested in acquiring the Irishman's services. Bennett would be the team's first top sprinter since Mark Cavendish raced for them in 2012, the British squad having preferred to almost solely focus on Grand Tour success since then, although the arrival of Tom Pidcock in 2021 has seen Ineos compete more consistently at the pointy end of the spring Classics.
Peter Sagan to Total Direct Energie or Israel Start-Up Nation?
As mentioned above, Sagan looks set to leave Bora-Hansgrohe at the end of the season after five years with the team.
Deceuninck - Quick-Step have ruled themselves out, but there is no shortage of alternate suitors for the Slovakian.
Total Direct Energie are said to be the most interested, according to L'Équipe, the French outfit looking to make the step up to the WorldTour and a name such as Sagan's on their roster making that possibility all the more likely.
Two more WorldTour teams are also said to have expressed their desire to bring Sagan onboard, one of which is apparently Israel Start-Up Nation.
As the summer progresses, we'll continue to keep this list updated with any murmurings we hear, as well as all the Belgian newspaper articles we can chuck through Google Translate.
Hi. I'm Cycling Weekly's Weekend Editor. I like writing offbeat features and eating too much bread when working out on the road at bike races.
Before joining Cycling Weekly I worked at The Tab and I've also written for Vice, Time Out, and worked freelance for The Telegraph (I know, but I needed the money at the time so let me live).
I also worked for ITV Cycling between 2011-2018 on their Tour de France and Vuelta a España coverage. Sometimes I'd be helping the producers make the programme and other times I'd be getting the lunches. Just in case you were wondering - Phil Liggett and Paul Sherwen had the same ham sandwich every day, it was great.