It’s early August and that means it’s time to get silly.
Cycling’s transfer window – also known as “the silly season” – opened this weekend, meaning teams are able to confirm new signings and team transfers.
A whole slate of star names is set to make a move at the end of the year. Peter Sagan, Sam Bennett, Rohan Dennis, and Geraint Thomas are among a host of superstars that are likely to be wearing a new jersey next summer.
Here’s a look at the biggest transfers that we could see confirmed in the coming weeks, and what they mean for the riders, the teams, and the peloton as a whole.
Sam Bennett: From Deceuninck-Quick-Step to Bora-Hansgrohe (confirmed)
Sam Bennett has closed out a rollercoaster two-year tenure with Deceuninck-Quick-Step and confirmed Tuesday that he will be returning to former team Bora-Hansgrohe in 2022.
Bennett left Bora-Hansgrohe in 2019 looking for his own opportunities away from the shadow of teammate Peter Sagan. The wins started flooding in almost as soon as Bennett was coupled to the back of Deceuninck-Quick-Step’s all-conquering leadout train.
The Irishman was soon elevated from being one of the top sprinters in the world to the top sprinter in a 2020 season that saw him score a green jersey along with Tour de France and Vuelta a España stage wins. Bennett and leadout master Michael Mørkøv kept the wins-a-coming through the start of this year before injuries and a dramatic fallout with team boss Patrick Lefevere opened the door for the rise of Mark Cavendish.
The big question for next year is whether Bennett, 30, can continue to take it to the likes of Cavendish, Caleb Ewan, and Tim Merlier without the leadout wizards of his former Belgian team.
The omens are bleak. A long line of top sprinters, from Cavendish to Fernando Gaviria and Elia Viviani lost their winning legs when they left the Quick-Step stable.
But that doesn’t mean it will happen to Bennett.
Bora-Hansgrohe has a lot of experience with bunch sprinter has bolstered its leadout train with Ryan Mullen and Bennett’s long-time wingman Shane Archbold. But it will be tough to match the likes of Mørkøv, Davide Ballerini, Kasper Asgreen, and Co.
And who will step into Bennett’s boots at Deceuninck-Quick-Step?
Cavendish is the obvious candidate. Although his contract has not yet been renewed, it seems a dead cert after his heroics at the Tour – but at 36-years-old, how much time does the Manxman have? In the longer- term, it could be the returning Fabio Jakobsen that gets the limousine ride on Mørkøv’s wheel.
Peter Sagan: From Bora-Hansgrohe to Team TotalEnergies (to be confirmed)
Peter Sagan will leave Bora-Hansgrohe after a five-year spell that has scored him a world title, a Paris-Roubaix victory, green jerseys, and a whole lot more.
It’s long been known that the Slovak ace wasn’t going to be renewed at the end of this season, and speculation has soared over where the 31-year-old would end up. After murmurs of a move to Deceuninck-Quick-Step went quiet, Sagan has been heavily rumored to be in discussion with Team TotalEnergies and they remain in pole position for Sagan’s signature
Also read: Peter Sagan set to leave Bora-Hansgrohe
A move to the French ProTeam is one that initially comes as a surprise, but could make sense.
The energy monolith backing the French squad is likely to have the budget and roster-room to spare on Sagan and his huge demands. The triple world champ would take a whole entourage with him, including his brother Juraj, wingman Daniel Oss, Maciej Bodnar, and Sagan’s long-time soigneur, mechanic, and press officers. In total, it’s a package that supposedly stacks up at around eight million euros.
Not all teams have the space – or the finance – to accommodate such an overhaul. But TotalEnegies might.
A full score of its riders are up for renewal this winter and many might get the push. The veteran rouleur-sprinters Niki Terpstra and Edvald Boasson Hagen are among those that are out of contract, leaving Sagan the room to flex his muscles alongside rising classics star Anthony Turgis.
Would joining TotalEnergies mark a step down for Sagan? Possibly.
The team’s interest in Sagan and the indication that it has money to burn may hint toward an incoming bid for WorldTour status. The French unit may see Sagan as the man to rocket them back to the big league after its former incarnation Europcar slid out of the top-tier in 2015.
Sagan has shown he’s still got wins in his legs.
They may be a little harder to come by when he splits from a Bora team so long built around him.
Whether TotalEnergies gets Sagan on board or another team beats them to it, Sagan’s move will be the news of the silly season.
Rohan Dennis: From Ineos Grenadiers to Jumbo-Visma (to be confirmed)
Rohan Dennis is on the move again. After just two years with Ineos Grenadiers – and one season with Bahrain-Merida before that – the Aussie ace is heavily rumored to be joining Jumbo-Visma next season.
The move would make for a real statement of intent by Jumbo-Visma in its ongoing battle with Ineos Grenadiers.
Dennis has proven a true multi-tool talent in the past two years, towing Tao Geoghegan Hart through the mountains to Giro d’Italia glory last year while racking up handfuls of time trial results for himself. In joining Jumbo-Visma, Dennis would be yet another member of a deep bench being built around Primoz Roglič, Wout van Aert and Jonas Vingegaard.
Also read: Rohan Dennis plays MVP at Giro d’Italia
Any team would miss an outgoing Dennis, even Ineos Grenadiers.
But the British squad is better equipped than any other to make do without him. The Aussie’s exit may be a marker of the team’s shift in focus toward its youthful Spanish-speaking contingent focused around Egan Bernal and Richard Carapaz. And heck, who knows who Dave Brailsford might sign in the coming weeks as a substitute for Dennis.
It will be interesting to see how the notoriously prickly Dennis fits in should he move to Jumbo-Visma.
After leaving Bahrain-Merida due to murmurs of dissatisfaction with its equipment, Dennis has shown no signs of malcontent with Ineos Grenadiers’ Pinarello bikes and Castelli kit.
Will a black and yellow Cervelo keep Dennis happy? If it works for time trial aces van Aert, Roglič, and Dumoulin, it should for Dennis too. Any aspiring team time trial unit might as well give up training now – Jumbo-Visma and Dennis, Roglič, van Aert, Dumoulin, and Tony Martin are coming to get you.
Geraint Thomas: From Ineos Grenadiers to … who knows
Geraint Thomas may be riding out his last of 12 seasons with the Sky/Ineos setup this summer.
The Welshman is out of contract this winter and has openly admitted he may be making a move away from Ineos Grenadier. Although there’s still the chance that the British squad will keep its Tour de France winner one year longer, it’s far from guaranteed. Thomas has endured a relatively barren spell since taking yellow in 2018 and finishing second in France the year after, and a summer of disappointment in the past month won’t help his case.
Thomas has indicated he’s speaking to several teams and Cofidis, Trek-Segafredo, and Qhubeka-NextHash have all been loosely linked to the 35-year old. However, as of Tuesday, it’s a total unknown where Thomas may be seeing out his career.
Should Thomas remain with his long-time team, he will likely take a cut in pay and a drop in responsibility. With Egan Bernal, Richard Carapaz, and Adam Yates on GC duty, Thomas may become the new Richie Porte as a domestique de luxe – or he may even go out with a last-ditch pivot back to his early cobble-bashing years.
If Thomas doesn’t renew with Ineos Grenadiers it will mark the end of an era. Thomas is the last rider remaining from the 2010 incarnation of Team Sky, and with doubts over Dave Brailsford’s future, the team could be making a major transition.
Also on the cards:
- Vincenzo Nibali: From Trek-Segafredo to Astana-PremierTech
- Aleksandr Vlasov: From Astana-PremierTech to Bora-Hansgrohe
- João Almeida: From Deceuninck-Quick-Step to UAE-Team Emirates
- Gianni Moscon: From Ineos Grenadiers to Deceuninck-Quick-Step
- Pascal Ackerman: From Bora-Hansgrohe to UAE-Team Emirates
- Esteban Chaves: From BikeExchange to EF Education-Nippo