Any given week, there are oodles of cycling stories flying around in the news. So here’s a quick-hit summary of this week’s happenings, plus my own garbage opinions on each. Much like my gambling advice, these takes are for entertainment purposes only!
Greg Van Avermaet’s loss is Peter Sagan’s gain. Key classics support rider Daniel Oss will leave the Olympic champ’s BMC Racing team for the world champ’s Bora-Hansgrohe team in 2018. This is a huge win for Sagan, who was sometimes under-supported by his German team during this year’s Classics. Oss, by contrast, was a beast at Flanders and Roubaix, and helped set up Van Avermaet for the win at the latter. But for fans, this means we’ll have cycling’s ultimate rock-and roll duo. Sagan loves Americana and music videos. Oss, with his flowing locks, looks like an extra from “This is Spinal Tap.” If cycling had walk-up songs like baseball, they’d be blasting Def Leppard for these two. Hmm, come to think of it, why doesn’t cycling have roll-up music?
After six years with the Sunweb organization, Warren Barguil will leave for Fortuneo-Oscaro in 2018. I know what you’re thinking — going from WorldTour to Pro Continental is a downgrade. But this is actually a killer move. Fortuneo-Oscaro is easily one of the most French of French pro teams, what with its odd kit colors and unpronounceable sponsors. (Hey, at least it isn’t Bretagne-Séché Environnement any longer!) The 23-man team was all French except for four riders this year. So it’s a perfect fit for Barguil, the emotive, plucky Frenchman who just won the polka-dot jersey. Better yet, he won a stage on Bastille Day. It’s a grand-slam of French-ness. Mark my words, in two year’s time, Barguil will be just as big as Thomas Voeckler. And most likely, he’ll win the same number of grand tours (zero).
Alexander Kristoff will leave Katusha-Alpecin for UAE Team Emirates next season. This is probably the least-surprising move for 2018, given the rather public feud he’s had with his current team. At one point, Kristoff said Katusha brass accused him of being 2-3 kilos overweight. So will UAE support him no matter how pudgy he gets? Or, will it find a new weight-loss secret to help Kristoff return to his monument-winning form? Either way, it’s a win. If the team takes the supportive tack, it’s a feel-good PR move. If the team comes up with a weight-loss program, they can market it to masters cyclists looking to get faster.
One of Sky’s key Tour super-domestiques is leaving the “Death Star.” Mikel Nieve will head to Orica-Scott after five years with Sky. He’s playing it smart though. Despite two top-10 results at the Vuelta, Nieve isn’t setting off to pursue personal glory in grand tours. Instead, he’ll ride for Orica-Scott’s stable of young GC hopes: Simon and Adam Yates and Esteban Chaves. Nieve’s no fool — by now he’s witnessed something that we have all seen… the Curse of the Sky Domestique. Mikel Landa, Geraint Thomas, and above all, Richie Porte, have all tried to chase grand tour glory after riding their legs off for Chris Froome at the Tour. All of them have had mysterious misfortunes from crashes to flats to bizarre penalties. Now, if the Yates brothers or Chaves have problems in 2018, we should be really worried about a Sky curse. That will mean that the curse is contagious.