The cycling transfer window officially opens on Monday August 1, with a number of signings for 2023 expected to be revealed as teams and riders unveil their plans for the future.
Under UCI rules, riders can change teams mid-season between August 1-15, while a change of teams for the following year can be announced between August 1 and December 31.
In reality, many of the big-name rider deals have already been done secretly in the last few months, with rider agents meeting different team managers at race hotels throughout the spring and the summer to thrash out agreements.
Contracts will have been checked by lawyers and, in some cases, signed. Now, from August 1, they can be announced publicly.
Some teams prefer to wait for strategic moments to make their announcements and a few try to stop their riders revealing their futures immediately but the peloton will be awash with rumors and news of team changes.
Act cyclingnews we’re expecting to see a flurry of activity, with a raft of done deals that can now be announced, followed by more negotiations for the remaining riders on the market as teams plan for the next phase of WorldTour licenses that run from 2023-2025 .
The rapid growth in women’s racing and the addition of further WorldTour teams in 2023 means the women’s transfer market is also growing. Lorena Wiebes is set to leave Team DSM for SD Worx, finding a way out of her contract to make the most of a better deal at the powerful Dutch team. Meanwhile, AG Insurance-NXTG Team are preparing to step up to WorldTour level and will want to strengthen.
However, the biggest women’s announcements are likely to come later in the year, once the results, the value and impact of the Tour de France Femmes avec Zwift have been measured.
On the men’s side, Richard Carapaz is expected to leave Ineos Grenadiers for EF Education-EasyPost in what is the marquee move as far as Grand Tour contenders are concerned. Almost all other realistic three-week podium finishers are staying put, with the likes of Tadej Pogačar, Jonas Vingegaard, Primož Roglič, Jai Hindley, Geraint Thomas, Egan Bernal, Simon Yates, Remco Evenepoel, Romain Bardet, David Gaudu, Enric Mas, Mikel Landa, and Joao Almeida all under contract at their current teams for 2023.
Ineos are set to say goodbye to Carapaz after three years and podiums at all three Grand Tours, as the British team continues their recent focus on developing young riders. In that respect, Tom Pidcock has been handed a new lucrative long-term contract, and Leo Hayter is set to become their latest neo-pro signing, joining his older brother Ethan at the team after a year at Hagens Berman Axeon and a dominant ride at the U23 Giro.
Ineos are backing Bernal’s return to full fitness after his terrible training crash in Colombia, confident he’s the rider who can challenge Vingegaard and Pogačar in the future. They’re also set to poach the highly-rated Thymen Arensman from DSM. With Geraint Thomas providing a reminder of his class at this year’s Tour – despite his age and a down-graded contract – Ineos now have to decide what to do with Adam Yates, who’s one of the big names on the market and a key piece in the overall puzzle.
Carapaz’s arrival will spark fresh investment and a better roster at EF Education-EasyPost, with team manager Jonathan Vaughters keen to also build around Neilson Powless and Magnus Cort. Part of the headache revolves around what they do with longtime talisman Rigoberto Urán, who has faded in recent years, and also Esteban Chaves.
Jumbo-Visma dominated the Tour de France but are building for an even better future. They have been very active in the market so far, with Paris-Roubaix winner Dylan van Baarle on his way from Ineos Grenadiers to link up with Wout van Aert in the Classics and also provide Grand Tour support. The Dutch team have also been linked with Jan Tratnik from Bahrain Victorious, Wilco Kelderman from Bora-Hansgrohe and Attila Valter from Groupama-FDJ.
Their Tour de France rivals UAE Team Emirates will also strengthen their roster, adding Tim Wellens from Lotto Soudal, but it remains to be seen how they bolster the support network around Tadej Pogačar. Key domestic mountain Rafal Majka is up for renewal, while they may feel less pressure to recruit a back-up to Pogačar given the rapid rise of Juan Ayuso and the continued development of Brandon McNulty and Joao Almeida.
Ireland’s Eddie Dunbar (Ineos) was considered a Jumbo-Visma target but is now set for a move to BikeExchange-Jayco, who have the backing of team owner Gerry Ryan for a further three years and have already extended the contracts of Simon Yates and Michael Matthews.
QuickStep-AlphaVinyl will become Soudal-QuickStep in 2023 and Patrick Lefevere will have a bigger and long-term budget to allow him to boost his Grand Tour squad around Remco Evenepoel. He will also rejuvenate his Classics squad, with Yves Lampaert confirmed as staying after his Tour de France time trial win. As ever, the QuickStep revolving door of sprinters continues, with Mark Cavendish set to leave and Belgian champion Tim Merlier set to join from Alpecin-Deceuninck.
Could Cavendish drop down to ProTeam level for 2023?
The biggest name on the market is surely that of Cavendish. His exit from QuickStep has been confirmed and the Manxman has made it clear he wants to race for two more years and return to the Tour de France to try to beat the stage victory record he currently ties with Eddy Merckx.
He has enlisted the services of a new agent this spring in order to find the best possible option and avoid falling into the situation of the past two years when he had to scrape for one-year deals, and ones that weren’t as lucrative as you’d expect from such a decorated rider who’s winning consistently again.
Cavendish’s services have been offered to several teams. One outsider that has entered the frame recently is the B&B Hotels team, who have reportedly secured sponsorship of around 15 million Euros thanks to the Carrefour supermarket chain and the city of Paris. Team manager Jerome Pineau is scouring the market and has apparently already signed Cees Bol and Ramon Sinkeldam as a sprint lead-out.
Could Mark Cavendish be their big-name signing for 2023? Perhaps, although he has interest from a number of teams and could demand a salary of around a million Euros. Pineau has so far refused to give an interview about his plans for 2023 but he raced at QuickStep for a number of years and so perhaps understands how to ensure the Manxman remains successful.
Aside from Merlier, other sprinters on the move include Alexander Kristoff, who’s off to Uno-X, and Fernando Gaviria, who now looks set to leave UAE Team Emirates after failing to reach his former levels during his one-year extension this season.
As with the Grand Tour contenders, there’s not so much of a sprinter merry-go-round this year, with the likes of Fabio Jakobsen, Caleb Ewan, Dylan Groenewegen, Arnaud Démare, Sam Bennett, Arnaud De Lie, Elia Viviani, Giacomo Nizzolo , Pascal Ackermann, and Olav Kooij all under contract through 2023.
The relegation factor
The battle to avoid relegation from the WorldTour is already intense, with a number of teams racing for points rather than victories. The Tour de Langkawi in October will confirm the two teams that will be relegated and who will secure the designated slots to the Grand Tours and Classics for 2023.
Which teams drop down to ProTeam level will impact the final months of the transfer season. Some riders may even exercise a get-out clause and break their contracts, while some sponsors may jump ship to another team to stay in the WorldTour. The teams that survive will boost their rosters for a busy 2023, and the relegated teams will likely reduce their rosters to match a smaller budget and lower level racing program.
Both Alpecin-Deceuninck and Arkea-Samsic both have enough points to secure a place in the 2023 WorldTour and so are busy building for the future, while several other ProTeams have new sponsors and bigger budgets and are keen to emulate the success of Alpecin-Deceuninck and secure wildcard invitations to major races.
Nairo Quintana was on the market in the spring, with talks at Movistar and elsewhere but he expressed a desire to stay with Arkéa-Samsic after finishing sixth overall at the Tour de France. Alpecin are losing Merlier but already have a lead sprinter in Jasper Philipsen, and are also reportedly close to bringing in Soren Kragh Andersen (DSM) and Kaden Groves (BikeExchange-Jayco).
In the relegation zone at present are Lotto Soudal and Israel-Premier Tech. Caleb Ewan has played down the prospect of leaving Lotto early if they miss out on the WorldTour. In any case, they would likely have enough points to earn wildcard invites to all WorldTour races in 2023.
The same cannot be said for Israel-Premier Tech, who would be pipped to the last of those two tickets by TotalEnergies as it stands. The Israel team has 20 riders on their current roster whose contracts are set to expire. At present, they’ve attracted some young talents but still have a lot of building to do. Money is not an issue, but their status for 2023 and beyond could well be when it comes to attracting the bigger names.
Movistar could still find themselves in trouble, which could hold them back in the market. Their talisman Alejandro Valverde is retiring at the end of the season and they’ve already missed out on their first target, a return for Richard Carapaz.