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5 men’s WorldTour transfers that could change the game in 2023

Grand tour stars, cobblestone crushers, and bunch sprint supremos: Here are the five top transfers for 2023.

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The merry-go-round of the 2022-23 transfer season is grinding to a halt and the pro peloton is already bracing for the season ahead.

This year’s off-season saw a swathe of marquee transfers, renewals, retirements, and riders put out of contract. Rosters have been reshaped and priorities realigned by teams across the sport after a 2022 overshadowed by the scramble for UCI points and the battle for WorldTour survival.

Also read:  5 men’s neo-pros to watch in 2023

Scores of top racers traded jerseys for the next racing year, but some of those off-season swaps were more spectacular than others.

Here are five transfers that could reshape the men’s WorldTour in 2023:

Richard Carapaz (29): Ineos Grenadiers to EF Education-EasyPost

Carapaz: A golden helmet and a golden opportunity at top GC results. (Photo: Tim de Waele/Getty Images)

Signing of the season? It’s gotta be.

EF Education-EasyPost boss Jonathan Vaughters blew the doors off when he secured the signature of Giro d’Italia and Olympic champion Richard Carapaz.

The Ecuadorian star packs the GC potential, attacking swagger, and South American passport that checks all the boxes for a team that was looking for a new anchor.

With five grand tour top-4s and a stack of marquee stage wins, Carapaz guarantees the TV time and good-vibe headlines that Hugh Carthy, Esteban Chaves, and Rigoberto Urán have struggled to secure with their rollercoaster form graphs.

The EF team hasn’t hit a grand tour podium since Carthy mounted the bottom step at the 2020 Vuelta a España. With Carapaz on the bus and riders like Chaves, Carthy and Neilson Powless sat behind him, the team’s pink podium crocs might be brightening a set of three-week steps quite soon.

Dylan Van Baarle (30): Ineos Grenadiers to Jumbo Visma

The terrible twosome of the spring classics in 2023? Photo: Getty

Jumbo Visma was pretty good at spring classics in 2022, but it could hit a whole new level in 2023.

The arrival of Paris-Roubaix champion and Tour of Flanders runner-up Dylan Van Baarle brings Wout van Aert a superstar sidekick and the Jumbo Visma team a stellar second option in 2023.

With Tiesj Benoot, Christophe Laporte, Tiesj Benoot and Nathan Van Hooydoonk also in its arsenal, Jumbo-Visma has a “wolfpack” to make Patrick Lefevere weep and a barnstorming classics force with the potential to sweep the spring.

Jumbo-Vima brass told VeloNews during a recent call Van Baarle and Van Aert will share leadership next season. It will be intriguing to watch how well the two play teammate as Jumbo-Visma’s longtime poster boy Van Aert butts up against a new recruit that strengthens the team’s Dutch I.D. and will be wanting to assert his authority in a deep classics crew.

Tim Merlier (30): Alpecin-Deceuninck to Soudal Quick-Step

Tim Merlier could enter the top tier of bunch sprinters with Quick-Step. (Photo: James Startt)

Tim Merlier won 14 times in the past two seasons, and that was when he was busy battling team selection over Jasper Philipsen and surfing off a second-division leadout.

After already amassing Tour de France and Giro d’Italia victories with Alpecin-Deceuninck, Merlier could next year click into a newfound sprocket on the wheel of Michael Mørkøv and Quick-Step’s steamrolling leadout crew.

However, one pothole does come in the broad-shouldered shape of Merlier’s future teammate Fabio Jakobsen, who rose to become one of the alpha sprinters of the bunch this year. The Dutch star won the green jersey at this summer’s Tour and has a special place in Patrick Lefevere’s cast-iron heart after his dramatic crash and beyond-belief comeback.

However, with three grand tours to go around and Mark Cavendish on the way out, Merlier should still see a bounty of high-profile bunch kicks with Quick-Step.

Lefevere has a keen eye for sprinter talent, and Quick-Step is adept at transforming it into world-toppers. From Marcel Kittel and Fernando Gaviria to Cavendish and Jakobsen, the Belgian crew has a habit of making fast legs turn even faster.

Merlier could be next to get Lefevere’s master makeover.

Thymen Arensman (22) Team DSM to Ineos Grenadiers

Arensman won a stage and finished sixth overall at this year’s Vuelta. (Photo: Getty Images)

As if Ineos Grenadiers didn’t have enough hot young talent, it’s gone and got another future great in the long lean shape of Thymen Arensman.

Arensman joins the likes of Tom Pidcock, Magnus Sheffield, and Luke Plapp at the British crew after a breakout 2022 that saw the Dutchman hit the top-6 at the Vuelta a España and finish on the final podium at the Tour of the Alps.

It was a season that saw Arensman come good at the elite level after he lit his nation’s hopes in 2018 by finishing second behind Tadej Pogačar at the prestigious development race the Tour de l’Avenir.

Arensman played stage-race co-captain with Romain Bardet during his last season at Team DSM, but a move to a team as crowded as Ineos Grenadiers means the 22-year-old will have to elbow hard for his own opportunities next year.

Fortunately for him, Arensman already indicated he saw a move to Ineos Grenadiers through a long lens as he enters into the Dave Brailsford academy of grand tour success.

It’s possible Arensman won’t see much time in the spotlight in 2023 as he shackles into the early carriages of an Ineos mountain train. But those unspectacular kilometers might lead to much bigger things in the future as Brailsford and the whole Dutch nation watch and hope for its next potential grand tour great.

Adam Yates (30): Ineos Grenadiers to UAE Team Emirates

Adam Yates (Ineos Grenadiers)
Yates adds even more climbing power to UAE Emirates in 2023. (Photo: Getty Images)

Tadej Pogačar, Joao Almeida, Brandon McNulty, and Juan Ayuso will have yet another co-captain in 2023.

Adam Yates joins Pogačar and Co. to add an extra bit of “super” to the UAE Emirates superteam next season. How he will fit into the team’s bounty of stage-race talent is uncertain, but his signing makes for a statement of intent as UAE Emirates pumps investment into “project Pogačar” and its ambitions to win all the races, all the year.

It’s been some time since Yates blazed onto the GC scene when he won the Tour de France white jersey in 2016. The Brit is consistently on the fringes of the grand tour pack and hit the top-10 in his past three three-week races, but his odds of grand tour podium-finishes now seem short.

Yates certainly won’t be getting priority over Pogačar in the UAE pecking-order in 2023, but he should see a leading support role for the Slovenian or shared leadership with the likes of Almeida or Ayuso elsewhere.

Yates’ move from Ineos Grenadiers to UAE Emirates may seem something of a sidestep as the 30-year-old trades one talent-filled team for another. But it certainly shows that UAE Emirates is going all-in with its world-beating ambition.

Other big names on the move in 2023:

  • Zdenek Stybar, 36: (Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl to BikeExchange-Jayco)
  • Wilco Kelderman, 31: (Bora Hansgrohe to Jumbo-Visma)
  • Eddie Dunbar, 26: (Ineos Grenadiers to BikeExchange-Jayco)
  • Jay Vine, 27: (Alpecin-Deceuncink to UAE Emirates)