The start of the cycling season is at our doorstep and before we start following the first races in the Southern Hemisphere, a brief analysis of the inter-season transfers is required. These transfers were mainly marked by the dissolution of the BMC team, whose structure merged with that of the Polish CCC team, and by the financial domination of the teams from the Arabian Peninsula.
There is no need to hide it, the winter market has not been marked by major changes this year. The big platoon leaders didn't change their uniforms and if it weren't for the end of the BMC experiment, we wouldn't have much to say. Because although most of the men in red and black accompanied Greg Van Avermaet in the new team of the world tour of the CCC, important names such as Richie Porte (Trek), Rohan Dennis, Dylan Teuns (Bahrain), Alberto Bettiol, Tejay Van Garderen (EF Drapac), Jempy Drucker (Bora Hansgrohe), Nicolas Roche (Team Sunweb), Juergen Roelantds (Movistar) or Stefan Kung (Grouporama FDJ) have chosen another route. If you look closely, Van Avermaet doesn't have many experienced teammates, who may never have needed an army to surround him, but who will probably feel lonely and busy. On the other hand, we follow with great interest the arrival of a first-class team of young Italian-Polish sprinter Jakub Marezcko, who will probably feel comfortable in a Slavic atmosphere, but who will have to find a train to be competitive in high-level races.
We have also noticed that the bike transfer market is gradually starting to look like the French football league, Ligue 1: teams financed with money from the Arabian Peninsula are having fun, others are doing what they can. In fact, if the United Arab Emirates are content to give a hard blow by hiring Fernando Gaviria, Bahrain-Merida is the most active team on the market. Brent Copeland's team let the Izagirre brothers go to Astana, but it has strengthened at all levels, with CLM world champion Rohan Dennis, an emerging sprinter like Phil Bauhaus, a fighter like Dylan Teuns and climbers like Damiano Caruso or Jan Tratnik who will be useful to help Vincenzo Nibali on his big tours.
The other teams that have been strengthened are obviously those that have disappointed the most in 2018. Starting with Team Dimension Data, which attracted one of the great men of 2018, Michael Valgren. The Dane will be the leader in the one-day races for the South African team, where he can also count on other purchases such as Giacomo Nizzolo, Roman Kreuziger or Enrico Gasparotto. As for the Katusha team, we will see if the arrival of Jens Debusschere, Dani Navarro and Enrico Battaglin can straighten out a drifting boat that has managed to get rid of the enigma of Tony Martin, who left for Lotto Jumbo.
The other great novelty of the 2019 season is the change of team of André Greipel. The Gorilla of Rostock decided to end his career in a smaller team (Arkea Samsic, with Warren Barguill) and was immediately replaced by Caleb Ewan in Lotto-Soudal. The Australian sprinter obviously struggled to digest Mitchelton-Scott's decision to focus on the general classification of the big tours of 2018 and follow in the footsteps of his illustrious predecessor of the Lotto, Robby McEwen. With a train that works as well as the Belgian national team, the combination could be devastating.
In addition, Quick Step continued to reduce its workforce despite the arrival of new sponsor Deuceunink, leaving its star Fernando Gaviria, winner of the Tour of Flanders in 2018, Nicki Terpstra (Direct Energie), the promising Laurens De Plus (Lotto Jumbo) and Max Schachmann (Bora) without taking over replacements. But we don't care too much about Patrick Lefevere's team, which broke all the victories records in 2018 after letting go of Marcel Kittel, Dan Martin and Matteo Trentin, especially as with Remco Evenpoel, it now has the "new Merckx" in its ranks .........
An interesting transfer to follow is obviously the arrival of Richie Porte at Trek - Segafredo, to see if the legendary spell of Tasmanian was linked to the color of his jersey ..... The Australian will also have the support of Giulio Ciccone and Ivan Sosa, two young riders who have achieved good results in the Italian professional teams. We will also follow with interest the surprising arrival of Stefan Kung in Groupama - FDJ to ensure the victories in the CLM but also, who knows, for the results in the pebbles of the North.
Finally, we want to say goodbye to three great cyclists of this decade who will no longer be in circulation in 2019: Sylvain Chavanel, Pippo Pozzato and Premieslav Niemec. Thank you and many successes.