Many riders from the soon-to-close HTC-Highroad squad will be revealing their new squads in the coming days.
Among the high-profile riders expected to disclose their new teams include sprinter ace Mark Cavendish, German TT powerhouse Tony Martin and nearly everyone else on the U.S.-registered set to close its doors at the end of the season.
Contract obligations to Highroad, which require that riders do not reveal new squads until September 1, have prompted most of the riders to keep their mouths shut.
Although the UCI changed the date to allow squads to reveal new signings on August 1, riders wanted to respect the contract language.
That certainly hasn’t stopped the rumor mill from churning overtime the past few weeks.
All eyes will be on Cavendish, who is expected to land at Team Sky, though he’s reportedly been in talks with other teams, including GreenEdge.
Cavendish told BBC after the Tour that he had already firmed up a deal for next season and Sky is the most natural choice for the peloton’s fastest sprinter, but a final deal was reportedly not yet signed just a few weeks ago.
Martin is said to be close to joining Quick Step, but he didn’t bite when journalists asked him about his future after winning Monday’s time trial at the Vuelta a España.
“I will tell that in the next few days that I have signed with a team,” Martin said. “There are still a few points to work out, but I have made a selection.”
Several riders have already confirmed their new squads for 2012, including John Degenkolb and Patrick Gresch to Skil-Shimano; Jan Ghyselinck to Cofidis, Mark Renshaw to Rabobank, Alex Rasmussen to Garmin-Cervélo and the Velits brothers to Quick-Step/Omega.
“It’s a shame that Highroad is closing. It was a great team for me to build for the future,” Degenkolb told VeloNews. “We will have a strong team next year at Skil. We will have many Germans, so that will be nice. (Marcel) Kittel and I rode together before, so we will work well together.”
GreenEdge and BMC are both expected to scoop up a few of the HTC-Highroad riders.
Leigh Howard, the young Australian sprinter, said most of the Highroad riders had plenty of offers.
“We cannot say where we’re going until Sept. 1 due to our contracts, so we cannot say anything right now,” Howard told VeloNews. “This has been an interesting time for me, because it’s really the first time I had to pick a team. I had four or five teams interested in me, but I settled on one that I think is the best place for my development.”
Riders, for the most part, have put the demise of the team behind them as they wind down with their final races in a HTC-Highroad jersey.
“Everyone was very sad when we heard the decision to close the team. It was like a good friend had died,” Martin said. “It took us a few days to (accept) the news, but now it’s time to think about the future. It’s not good that a team like HTC-Highroad cannot find a sponsor to continue in the sport. It’s very sad, but now it’s time to look to the future.”
HTC-Highroad sport director Jens Zemke said that all but “two or three riders” have confirmed contracts for next season.