Twelve of the biggest UCI WorldTour transfers for 2018 so far
British riders, sprint stars and kings of the mountain all on the move this winter
With the 2017 season reaching its conclusion, with just a handful of races left on the calendar, there will be many riders turning their attention to next season – not least those who will be moving teams in the winter.
The UCI WorldTour’s transfer merry-go-round has been in full swing since the window for transfers officially opened on August 1.
Grand Tour stage winners, British stars, some of the top-ranked riders in the world and the cream of the crop when it comes to youth prospects are all off to pastures new for 2018.
So who’s on the move, and where to? We’ve rounded up some of the biggest WorldTour transfers for next season.
British and Irish riders…
First up, let’s start with the Brits, with two former British champions on the move and four riders stepping up to the UCI WorldTour for the first time this season…
Alex Dowsett (Movistar to Katusha-Alpecin)
After five years at Movistar, five-time former British time trial champion Alex Dowsett is on the move, aiming to ride more Grand Tours after a lack of opportunities with the Spanish team.
Dowsett won a stage of the Giro d’Italia in his debut Grand Tour, in 2013, but has only ridden one more Grand Tour since then – the 2015 Tour de France.
After missing out on selection again this year, having targeted the Giro, Dowsett will now link up with Katusha-Alpecin, where he could form part of Marcel Kittel’s lead-out train at the Tour de France.
Peter Kennaugh (Team Sky to Bora-hansgrohe)
Another rider keen to expand his horizons for the new season is two-time former British road race champion Peter Kennaugh, who will join Bora-hansgrohe.
The 28-year-old has spent his entire professional career with Team Sky, having turned pro when the team was founded in 2010, picking up ten pro wins in that time – including two stages of the Criterium du Dauphine.
Kennaugh also wore the red jersey at the 2016 Vuelta a Espana, but it is success in the week-long stages that his new team are keen for him to target after handing him a two-year deal.
Dan McLay (Fortuneo-Oscaro to EF Education First-Drapac p/b Cannondale)
After riding the Tour de France in each of the last two seasons, Dan McLay will be a WorldTour sprinter for the first time in 2018, after signing with Slipstream Sports.
EF Education First-Drapac p/b Cannondale, the new name for the team, announced the signing of the 25-year-old the day after he won the Tour de l’Eurometropole.
Alongside improving his sprinting ability, where he will likely pair up with fellow new signing Sacha Modolo, McLay is also targeting improvement in the Classics too.
McLay is one of four British riders stepping up to the WorldTour for the first time, alongside Scott Davies [Team Wiggins to Dimension Data], James Knox [Team Wiggins to QuickStep Floors] and Chris Lawless [Axeon Hagens-Berman to Team Sky].
Daniel Martin (QuickStep Floors to UAE Team Emirates)
Alongside the British riders, Irish star Daniel Martin, who finished sixth at the Tour de France despite suffering two fractured vertebrae in a crash, is also on the move this winter.
Martin will head UAE Team Emirates’ Grand Tour ambitions for the coming season, with the team’s former leader Louis Meintjes having returned to Dimension Data.
The Irishman is also a two-time Monument winner, and is likely to feature among the contenders in the Ardennes Classics again next year too.
Ryan Mullen (Cannondale-Drapac to Trek-Segafredo)
Irish road race and time trial champion Ryan Mullen is moving to Trek-Segafredo in the winter, after two full seasons with Cannondale-Drapac.
Time trial specialist Mullen, 23, a bronze medallist at the European Championships this year too, alongside finishing tenth at the Tour of Britain, has signed a two-year deal, which could see him targeting a Grand Tour debut and his first victories on the WorldTour stage.
Mullen started his career with Team IG-Sigma Sport, in 2013, and will be joined at Trek-Segafredo next season by another product of the British domestic scene – New Zealander Alex Frame is stepping up to UCI WorldTour level after two years (and five stage wins this season) with JLT-Condor.
The sprinting merry-go-round
Some of the biggest rider transfers this winter revolve around the peloton’s fastest men, with the world’s best sprinters changing teams (and therefore bikes and sprint trains) in 2018.
Marcel Kittel (QuickStep Floors to Katusha-Alpecin)
Marcel Kittel’s high-profile move to QuickStep two seasons ago has paid dividends for the German, providing new impetus to one of the fastest riders in the pro peloton, that was rewarded with five Tour de France stage wins this season.
He is on the move again now, however, with a move to Katusha-Alpecin seeing him join up with compatriot Tony Martin again.
Britain’s Alex Dowsett could also form part of Kittel’s sprint train next season, with the German ace looking to add to his 19 Grand Tour stage wins.
Alexander Kristoff (Katusha-Alpecin to UAE Team Emirates)
Kittel’s move to Katusha-Alpecin will see him occupy the spot opened by Alexander Kristoff’s move to big-spending UAE Team Emirates.
Alongside adding Dan Martin to their Grand Tour squad, two-time Monument winner and two-time Tour de France stage winner Kristoff will also join the Emirati team in 2018.
Kristoff, who finished second at the World Road Race last month, will join British rider Ben Swift in spear-heading UAE Team Emirates’ ambitions at Milan-San Remo, as well as targeting cobbled Classics success and Grand Tour stage wins.
Elia Viviani (Team Sky to QuickStep Floors)
Also part of this year’s sprinting merry-go-round is Olympic omnium champion Elia Viviani, who will try to fill the Kittel-shaped void at QuickStep Floors next season.
Viviani suffered a frustrating year, as he was overlooked for selection to the 100th Giro d’Italia, and is ending three years with the British WorldTour team this winter as a result.
He has signed off in style with Team Sky, bagging five victories and ten further top-tens since the start of August and will now co-lead QuickStep’s sprinting ambitions with former track rival Fernando Gaviria.
Sky, meanwhile, have also lost Danny van Poppel to LottoNL-Jumbo, with the British team’s sprinting ambitions next season set to be spear-headed by the upcoming stars (more on them later).
Matteo Trentin (QuickStep Floors to Orica-Scott)
Another sprinter departing QuickStep Floors in the winter will be Matteo Trentin, who is making the move to Orica-Scott.
Though not normally considered an out-and-out sprinter, the Italian powerhouse, 28, bagged four stage wins at this year’s Vuelta a Espana and now has stage victories at all three Grand Tours to his name.
Trentin says the move will see him afforded more opportunities in the Classics next season, as he looks to take the form he has shown in the lower-ranked Belgian one-day races to the biggest stages.
Away from the WorldTour, meanwhile, Bryan Coquard is also on the move – the Frenchman joining the new Vital Concept team from Direct Energie, who omitted him from this year’s Tour de France line-up after he announced his plans to leave.
Kings of the Mountain
It’s not just the peloton’s fastmen on the move either – the mountain classifications winners from all three of this season’s Grand Tours are also on the move for 2018…
Mikel Landa (Team Sky to Movistar)
The writing was on the wall as far as Mikel Landa’s Team Sky career was concerned when tensions arose at the Tour de France, with the Spaniard asked to forego individual ambitions in support of Chris Froome.
Landa had been in superb form at the race, eventually going on to finish fourth having already claimed the King of the Mountains title at the Giro d’Italia.
His ambitions for the Giro d’Italia had been greater, until his GC target was scuppered by the crash on Blockhaus on stage nine, but he will now vie with Alejandro Valverde and Nairo Quintana for Grand Tour top billing at Movistar next season.
Warren Barguil (Team Sunweb to Fortuneo-Oscaro)
One of the more surprising moves for some observers, Tour de France double stage winner, King of the Mountains and Super Combatif Warren Barguil is stepping down from the UCI WorldTour next season.
Barguil ended his contract with Team Sunweb a year early, with his future opportunities – despite his great ride at the Tour de France – likely to be limited given Giro d’Italia winner Tom Dumoulin’s growing stature.
With Dumoulin targeting the Tour, Barguil was allowed to join Breton team Fortuneo-Oscaro, with the Tour de France, assuming they are invited as wildcard entrants, the prime focus of the team [as opposed to juggling WorldTour commitments].
Barguil’s time with Sunweb ended on a sour note, however, when he was sent home from the Vuelta a Espana after admitting he had no desire to ride as a super-domestique and was keen to pursue individual opportunities – the exact reason for his move to Fortuneo-Oscaro.
Davide Villella (Cannondale-Drapac to Astana)
While not as high-profile as the other two Kings of the Mountain, the winner of the spotty jersey at the Vuelta a Espana, Davide Villella, is also on the move.
The Italian, 26, will join Astana on a two-year deal in 2018, having been one of the few remaining riders from the original Cannondale team, prior to their merger with Slipstream Sports.
While he proved his penchant for the breakaway at the Vuelta a Espana, Villella’s role is likely to be centred on being a mountain domestique instead next season.
Best of the rest
The list of big names on the move does not end with those 12 riders, either, with a whole host of riders switching teams this winter.
Team Sky’s grab of the best youth talent around, for example, includes the acquisitions of – alongside Lawless – Egan Arley Bernal, Pavel Sivakov and Kristoffer Halvorsen, while more established stars Jonathan Castroviejo, David de la Cruz and Dylan van Baarle will also ride for the team next season.
Team Sky are not the only team with a big budget to spend either, and Bahrain-Merida are adding two of this year’s Grand Tour stage winners, Gorka Izaguirre and Matej Mohoric, to their ranks next season, alongside diminutive Italian climbing ace Domenico Pozzovivo.
Giro d’Italia stage winners Silvan Dillier (BMC Racing to Ag2r-La Mondiale) and Omar Fraile (Dimension Data to Astana) are also on the move.
Orica-Scott will bolster their support squad for young Grand Tour hopefuls Adam and Simon Yates, and Johan Esteban Chaves, with the signing of Team Sky’s Mikel Nieve, meanwhile – the Spaniard having been an integral part of Chris Froome’s Grand Tour double this year.
The Australian team will bid farewell to one of their iconic riders, however, with 37-year-old Simon Gerrans joining BMC Racing.
Gerrans claimed Orica’s first ever WorldTour win at their debut race – the 2012 Tour Down Under, which he has won twice more since too in 2014 and 2016, as well as claiming two Monuments – Milan-San Remo 2012 and Liege-Bastogne-Liege 2014 - and wearing the leader's jersey at the Tour de France and Giro d'Italia.
Finally, other names to look out for at new teams next season include Tony Gallopin, with the Frenchman heading to Ag2r-La Mondiale, while the team he is leaving, Lotto-Soudal, have snapped up European time trial champion Victor Campenaerts from LottoNL-Jumbo.
The transfer madness might not be over yet, either – out-of-contract riders like Fabio Aru, Nicolas Roche, Vasil Kiryienka and Rohan Dennis are, at the time of writing, among those yet to publicly confirm their plans for next season.