Trek-Segafredo is in no rush to add another grand tour contender to its roster.
One week after learning that his Tour de France contender Alberto Contador plans to retire after the Vuelta a Epsaña, Trek-Segafredo general manager Luca Guercilena said the team will take a patient approach to the transfer market. Even with grand tour heavy hitters Fabio Aru and Mikel Landa reportedly searching for teams, Guercilena said he’s not rushing to sign someone new.
“Clearly there is now a door open for a big champion if they would like to join our team,” Guercilena said. “We are not getting crazy on the market because we need to pick up someone. We are not in a hurry. We are not too stressed.”
Questions have swirled about Trek-Segafredo’s 2018 Tour de France plans since the midpoint of this year’s race. Contador, 34, struggled to stay in contention with Chris Froome and the other contenders when the race hit the Pyrenees; he eventually finished 9th place overall, 8:49 down on Froome.
The team’s other grand tour threat, Bauke Mollema, who was at the Tour in a support role, then scored an impressive solo stage win on the 15th stage. After his victory, Mollema told reporters he wanted to target the Tour’s overall in 2018. In 2017 Mollema sacrificed his Tour ambitions to instead focus on the Giro d’Italia, where he finished seventh overall.
Guercilena said that the team could give more focus to Mollema and other riders for 2018.
“Alberto, at his high level he is difficult to replace but we are confident we can be competitive,” Guercilena said. “We will have the possibility to invest more in Mollema and invest in [Jarlinson] Pantano to make his own race.”
Contador will toe the line in Nimes, France, where the Vuelta kicks off next Saturday with a short time trial.
Contador’s departure marks the latest low-point in a topsy-turvy year for Trek-Segafredo. In the early season the team appeared to be headed for a successful classics and grand tour campaign; John Degenkolb won a stage of the Dubai Tour and Mollema won the opening stage of the Vuelta San Juan. But Trek faltered in its classics campaign, with Degenkolb coming up winless. Mollema could not climb alongside the top riders at the Giro, and Contador scored a series of second-place finishes at the springtime stage races.
When asked how he would assess his team’s performance, Guercilena said he would give score his squad 7 out of 10.
“We are competitive and always in the game—unlucky for us we scored so many second places, and that is a factor,” Guercilena said. “We missed one big classic and could have had a better position at the Tour de France. But we still can have a good second part of the season. I prefer to draw the final conclusion on the 31st of December.”