This year’s transfer market has seen a number of high-profile moves from Richard Carapaz to EF Education, Adam Yates to UAE Team Emirates, and Mark Cavendish to… TBC.
There has been a flurry of activity from the men’s WorldTour squads with new contract extensions handed to the likes of Wout van Aert and Tom Pidcock, while teams have also looked to strengthen plug holes, and recruit for the future.
It’s entirely subjective and only the road in 2023 will decide which rider transfers worked out but VeloNews has taken on the tricky task of ranking the men’s WorldTour teams by their transfer activity. This is not a listicle of the strongest teams from 18-1.
As well as factoring in who came in and who left, there has also been a consideration for budgets and resources, along with whether teams managed to keep their prized assets.
18. Astana Qazaqstan Team
A terrible season on the road followed by an incredibly meek showing in the transfer market. Freeing up the cash tied into Nibali’s contract should have at least released some funds for improvements elsewhere but the team has signed just two riders for next year with Luis León Sánchez coming back after a gap year at Bahrain and Harold Martín López stepping up from the development team. Samuele Battistella extending his deal with the team is a huge result for Vinokourov but the squad looks light in almost every department. Riders they brought in at the start of 2022, such as Gianni Moscon, have been poor, while the riders relied on up for wins haven’t delivered. Almost half the team was replaced last year, so maybe some stability this time around will help.
17. Lotto Dstny
Seven signings in total and not a single WorldTour win between them in the last decade. That’s a rather bleak picture for a team that’s set to be relegated from the top tier. However, the reality is that the board at Lotto allowed for a team boss to recruit for 2023 and then jump ship once all the deals were in place. What a catastrophic mistake. Elsewhere, Tim Wellens has departed and not been properly replaced, and Philippe Gilbert has hung up his wheels after a glittering career. The latter was a luxury the team couldn’t afford to carry through a relegation fight, and his departure has at least resulted in a strengthened leadout train via Jacopo Guarnieri and others. while Arnaud De Lie has been tied down with a long-term deal, which in itself is massive, and there are some fresh faces coming through that offer hope for the future. If De Lie and Caleb Ewan can hit the ground running the team should have a strong 2023 but long-term recruitment has to be a priority for whoever takes over from John Lelangue.
Guillaume Martin and Simon Geschke extended their contracts with the squad but elsewhere the team had very little to cheer for in the transfer market. Jonathan Lastra has some results from ProTeam level, but at 29, doesn’t look like he’s WorldTour caliber, while Christophe Noppe adds some power to the engine room. A couple of younger riders have been picked up, and although the team will continue to gain results in smaller French races they remain devoid of quality outside of a handful of riders. A couple of the neo-pros could develop in the coming years but the squad simply struggles to attract big names and doesn’t have the U23 program of Groupama to rely on.
15. Israel-Premier Tech
We’ll count Dylan Teuns given that the team signed the rider this year with the intent of using his skills to help secure their future. However, that didn’t pan out and it’s now in the hands of gods — or in this case, the UCI and potentially CAS — to figure out if the squad can still operate as a WorldTour team in 2023. The signings for next season have revolved around youth with a fresh draft of recruits from the development team and Matthew Riccitello coming over from Axel Merckx’s team. The departure of a few retired riders shouldn’t make too much of an impact but so much depends on the team’s status going forward. If the squad is relegated more stars could technically leave, while Jakob Fuglsang has mentioned retirement. If the team carries on, and if they have hopes of rejoining the WorldTour in three years then a shift in transfer policy needs to continue. The new recruits are promising, Teuns was a bold and impressive move but this team is still shackled by transfer mistakes it made in the past.
After a poor season with just 11 wins, AG2R-Citroën has had a subdued transfer market with only three new faces coming through the door and a gaggle of contract extensions. The biggest change comes with the departure of Bob Jungels, who finally reached top form after a barren few years. His stage win saved the team’s Tour but also attracted interest from Bora-Hansgrohe, who came knocking with a deal too good to turn down.
Alex Baudin from Tudor looks like a handy signing, and at 21, he has room to improve, while Bastien Tronchon is another promising climber now on the books. Pierre Gautherat, the last of the new arrivals, is just 19 but the team hasn’t added a single rider with grand tour experience. The gaps that were glaring are still there with Clément Champoussin (Arkéa-Samsic), Lilian Calmejane (Intermarché), and Gijs van Hoecke (Human Powered Health) among those also heading for the exit. There is still depth to the team but they’ve not really added strength or experience for the immediate future. Some solid signings but it feels a little underwhelming.
13. Team DSM
After winning just 10 races all season something had to give at Team DSM. The result is that a strong proportion of the team has gone with Søren Kragh Andersen (Alpecin-Deceuninck), Cees Bol (B&B Hotels-KTM), Casper Pedersen (Soudal-Quick-Step), Nikias Arndt (Bahrain Victorious), Thymen Arensman (Ineos Grenadiers), Nico Denz (Bora-Hansgrohe), and Mark Donovan all either opting to depart or being told that their contracts would not be renewed. Either way, the result is the same. They’ve gone.
To fill the void, the team has opted for a mix of youth and dogged experience with Max Poole (Team DSM Development), Patrick Bevin (Israel Premier Tech), Harm Vanhoucke (Lotto-Soudal), Matthew Dinham, Alex Edmondson (Team BikeExchange), and Sean Flynn all enlisting. On paper, the riders who left are stronger than the ones replacing them, and it was no surprise to see the team chase ferociously for Stefan Küng during the Tour. That would have been a game-changing signing, perhaps not in terms of results but certainly in terms of perception from the outside. Bevin is no slouch and carried his current team during the spring but the rest of the riders are developments or domestiques, and not proven grand tour stage winners like Andersen Arndt or Arensman. Keeping Romain Bardet, Chris Hamilton, Nils Eekhoff, Kevin Vermaerke, Martijn Tusveld, and Florian Stork keeps the team on track but the jury is out on the new recruits at this point. This team does have a proven track record for finding stars. Keeping them is another question.
12. Bahrain Victorious
The team did its business relatively early with Andrea Pasqualon, Nikias Arndt (Team DSM), and Cameron Scott (ARA Pro Racing Sunshine Coast) adding experience to the sprint department. However, it still hasn’t really addressed the fact that it doesn’t have a world-class sprinter. However, the biggest success in the market came with extending deals with Wout Poels, Matej Mohoric, Pello Bilbao, Heinrich Haussler, Kamil Gradek, Yukiya Arashiro, Phil Bauhaus, Jack Haig, Edoardo Zambanini, and Jasha Sütterlin. There’s no obvious replacement for Dylan Teuns, they lost a couple of solid climbers, and Sonny Colbrelli’s retirement, although predictable, came so late in the year that it meant that finding a classics replacement was almost impossible. Stage racing consistency will be the aim in 2023, while the team still has a few weapons for specific one-day races.
The German team was incredibly active in 2021, signing Sergio Higuita, Sam Bennett, Aleksandr Vlasov, and a host of other names. This time around the transfer policy has been based upon adding the finishing touches to a well-rounded squad without altering the philosophy of the team. Wilco Kelderman has left for Jumbo-Visma but Bob Jungels has been added. They’re not like-for-like moves but Jungels adds valuable steel and versatility to the team. The departures of Felix Großschartner and Lukas Pöstlberger shouldn’t send too many shockwaves through the roster, while Nico Denz is a decent addition. The spectacular moves were made in 2021, and while another climber or classics rider would have been ideal, the team is well-positioned for the coming season. Would probably be higher on this list if any of the heavy hitters had been out of contract and re-signed.
It wasn’t looking great a few weeks ago, but since securing its future at WorldTour level thanks to a strong finale to the season, the situation at Movistar has improved significantly. Ruben Guerreiro broke his contract at EF to join, Iván Romeo is only 19 but looks like a nice little find, and Fernando Gaviria was snapped up at a very fair price. The latter is a gamble given his trajectory over the last few years, and Movistar isn’t exactly known for its track record of working with pure sprinters, but a one-year deal suits both parties. Imanol Erviti, Lluis Mas, Albert Torres, and José Joaquin Rojas were all handed contract extensions, so while it’s been a slow burn the market has turned in Movistar’s favor. Given that they only had a handful of spots to play with they’ve done some surprisingly decent business. The big loss, and everyone seems to have forgotten this, is that they were initially interested in signing Carapaz and the Spanish team was the favorite for the rider’s signature right until after the Giro. Replacing Alejandro Valverde was an almost impossible mission but the team is well set up for 2023 with Enric Mas and a number of other riders in their mid-20s. Expect a major signing to come through the door in 2024, however.
The Belgian squad lacks the financial clout to compete with the very top teams, and having lost Jan Hirt to Quick-Step, Domenico Pozzovivo to possible retirement, Quinten Hermans to Alpecin, and Alexander Kristoff to Uno-X, the management attempted to cover what bases they could. GC remains a weak spot with Pozzovivo and Hirt not directly replaced but Mike Teunissen is a really savvy signing, and while Rui Costa might be beyond his best years, he brings with him a vault of experience. Elsewhere, youth has been prioritized with riders like Madis Mihkels and Dries De Pooter adding hope for the coming years. Lilian Calmejane could turn out to be a coup if he can find his best legs again. There are no marquee signings — although the contract extension for Biniam Girmay is hugely significant — but rather a set of astute arrivals that bring depth and specific quality in certain arrears. It’s now up to the management to start developing the new hires. Given the team’s resources, this was a decent transfer window.
It was somewhat surprising to see Trek-Segafredo opt not to chase veteran GC riders on the market this year and instead carry on with the team’s more recent policy of investing in its current roster and young talent. Thibau Nys, Mathias Vacek, and Natnael Tesfatsion (Drone-Hopper) are the promising new starters, while the team has banked on the continued success of its core with contract extensions for Mads Pedersen, Bauke Mollema, Jasper Stuyven, Toms Skujiņš, and Mattias Skjelmose Jensen. A few fringe riders and veterans have departed but this is ultimately the same squad as before with a few gentle improvements. The team did chase Filippo Ganna for 2024, so the appetite for a star is there but the management chose not to pursue Mark Cavendish when he was presented to them. A pure sprinter and a proven grand tour leader are still gaps but Skjelmose Jensen and Juan Pedro López could develop into the slots with time. Not a spectacular transfer window by any means but some solid business nonetheless.
7. Ineos Grenadiers
This is a really hard one to call. On the one hand, the team dispatched with riders they felt couldn’t win the Tour de France, and instead opted for a blend of youth and contract extensions for key riders. The problem is that they’ve cleared out grand tour space for a leader without recruiting for the exact spot that they desperately needed to fill in the short term. Hence the very real interest in Evenepoel. The loss of Van Baarle is a blow but he was in line for a major pay increase after the spring, and at 30, the British squad took a pragmatic approach to a rider at the peak of his contract demands. There is a raft of really exciting young talent coming through though, and genuine depth has been added to every facet of the team, from stage racing to the cobbled classics. There is a legitimate question as to whether the team is weaker on paper heading into 2023 given the experience that has walked out the door and the raw talent that has replaced the likes of Yates, Carapaz, and Porte but there’s still a lot to be excited about. Tom Pidcock’s contract extension sets this team up for the next few years, while Thymen Arensman is a tremendous signing.
6. Team BikeExchange-Jayco
The best news came when Gerry Ryan committed to the team for the next few years. That led to Michael Matthews and Simon Yates extending their deals, with a flurry of other re-signings taking place soon after. The arrival of Eddie Dunbar gives the team added value in the mountains and stage racing department. Chris Harper can’t be forgotten either, and there’s some depth with Zdeněk Štybar and Italian national champion Filippo Zana added to the roster. Welay Hagos Berhe could be special too. Losing Kaden Groves was a kick in the teeth, and so too was the departure of Nick Shultz, but overall this was a good window for the team. They kept their leaders, added some talent to the depth chart, and gave Dylan Groenewegen a bit more cover in the sprints. Another stage race leader would have been the icing on the cake but in the end, Adam Yates had a much better offer from UAE.
5. Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl Team
Jan Hirt’s result at the Giro d’Italia netted him a move to Patrick Lefevere’s team, and although that looks like a slightly surprising signing the arrivals of Tim Merlier and Casper Pedersen look like archetypal Quick-Step moves. Pedersen is seen as the long-term successor to Michael Mørkøv, and Merlier offers sprint relief to Fabio Jakobsen and the chance for the team to retain its two-pronged leadout formation. Yves Lampaert has been given a contract extension but there hasn’t been a concerted effort to build out Evenepoel’s mountain support or strengthen an aging spring classics unit. Lefevere can cover for that given that he has two of the world’s most versatile riders in the current and former world champions, but the next transfer window will be massive for this team. Lefevere didn’t have a lot of wiggle room this off-season, and keeping Evenepoel is huge considering what it could have meant had Ineos been successful in its pursuit of the rider. If Evenepoel had left this team would have fallen considerably.
The emphasis for Marc Madiot’s men has been on youth, with a batch of highly talented U23 riders ushered in from the development team including Lenny Martinez, Paul Penhoët, Reuben Thompson, Sam Watson, and Romain Grégoire. Elsewhere Stefan Küng has extended along with David Gaudu, Matthieu Ladagnous, Fabien Lienhard, Clement Davy, Olivier Le Gac, Lars van der Berg, and Ignatas Konovalovas. The only blindspot or area of neglect has been around Arnaud Démare’s leadout with Ramon Sinkeldam and Jacopo Guarnieri moving on. Some valued and experienced domestiques retired, while Sébastien Reichenbach has found a new team, and Attila Valter was pinched by Jumbo-Visma. Time will tell on that one. Overall, a good window for the French team as they rely on the feeder team to scout and sign talent. Démare will have to hope that the younger riders recruited for his train can get up to speed quickly.
3. EF Education-EasyPost
The only team to sign a grand tour winner in the transfer window, EF-Education-EasyPost has enjoyed a very productive period of signings after years of austerity. Richard Carapaz brings the team to a new level in almost every department, while Andrea Piccolo from Drone Hopper-Androni Giocattoli, and Mikkel Honoré from Quick-Step, add quality. Rigoberto Urán agreeing to another two years is a major plus. The loss of Ruben Guerreiro is a blow but the team will be hoping that Esteban Chaves can step up in one-day and stage races. Michael Valgren dropping down to the Continental team is understandable but the hope is that he returns to the WorldTour in the future. Jefferson Cepeda and Andrey Amador are good options to have around in the background but expect one more WorldTour level signing in the coming days/weeks. Carapaz is a potential game-changer though.
2. UAE Team Emirates
Brandon McNulty, Rafal Majka, Diego Ulissi, Mikkel Bjerg, Vegard Stake Laengen, Matteo Trentin, and the Oliveiras all signed new contract extensions but the new arrivals add plenty of firepower, too, with Tim Wellens and Adam Yates essential for UCI points hunting. Domen Novak (Bahrain Victorious) and Felix Großschartner (Bora-Hansgrohe) bring added quality, and it will be interesting to see what Michael Vink can add. Some of the deadwood was jettisoned too with Gaviria and Costa let go. They too chased Stefan Küng and missed out but overall this was a successful transfer block for the team. Expect one more big transfer to be announced in the coming days.
Losing Wout van Aert was never an option but a new long-term deal retains one of the best riders in the world for the foreseeable future. Van Baarle, Atilla Valter, and Jan Tratnik add depth, while the return of Wilco Kelderman is an improvement on the Tom Dumoulin we’ve seen over the last few years. There are no real weak spots within this team, and they’ve recruited smartly by picking off talent from rival squads and supplementing that with youth in the form of Tom Gloag. There’s so much depth that they can even afford to brush off interest from riders at Lotto and Israel who were interested in breaking their contracts in order to join. Van Baarle is a step up on Mike Teunissen, and David Dekker wasn’t going to have many chances going forward. Improving on the 2022 roster was a tough ask but it’s a case of mission accomplished.