As the 2020 WorldTour racing season is again spinning at full speed, teams and riders are evaluating opportunities to guarantee success during a year which has seen teams struggle to survive. Thus, the cycling world has seen a number of marquee transfers and signings this week, and the sport’s transfer market heats up.
2016 Olympic road race champion Greg Van Avermaet has signed a three-year deal with French team AG2R-La Mondiale for 2021, leaving behind his longtime squad CCC Team (formerly BMC) and its American boss, Jim Ochowicz. Van Avermaet, 35, rode with Ochowicz for 10 seasons.
“I am happy and motivated to start a new adventure. I have just spent 10 beautiful years in the structures of Jim Ochowicz and I am embarking on a new challenge,” Van Avermaet said in a release.
Joining Van Avermaet in departing Team CCC for AG2R-La Mondiale is longtime domestique Michaël Schär, also signing for three years. Schär has been racing with Van Avermaet since 2011.
In a press release, AG2R-La Mondiale director Luncent Lavenu said of the two additions to the team, “It is a great satisfaction to have secured the signings of Greg Van Avermaet and Michaël Schär. Greg is a great champion, showing incredible consistency at the highest level. His bond with his friend Oliver Naesen, with whom he sometimes trains with, will be an added advantage. Michaël is one of the best teammates in the world. He will be invaluable in protecting our leaders, whether in stage races or in the classics.”
From the start of the 2021 season, the team will be known as AG2R-Citroën.
Romain Bardet is joining Team Sunweb for 2021 on a two-year deal. Bardet leaves AG2R-La Mondiale after a nine-year run with the French squad.
“I am very happy to have signed for Team Sunweb. When considering options outside my current team, it was really important for me to find a team that works progressively, involving the latest technology in equipment and other domains. I also wanted a team with a clear vision of the sport and one that is a member of MPCC. At Team Sunweb I have the opportunity to start with no specific expectations or a specific race to target.”
Israel Start-Up Nation
The highest-profile addition to Israel Start-Up Nation was announced weeks ago, when it was confirmed the Chris Froome would be leaving Team Ineos for Israel Start-Up Nation. The Israeli-based team continues to bolster its roster with additions to make it a team that can support a grand-tour GC contender. Time trial specialist Patrick Bevin is another rider leaving Team CCC to join ISN. “I love the discipline and everything that goes with it,” Bevin said in a release. “I have an internal drive to improve and race against the clock; and I want to get the best out of myself in time trials wearing the ISN colors.”
Sebastian Berwick, Carl Fredrik Hagen, and Daryl Impey are three more additions to the team. Impey has previously ridden with Froome when the two raced for Team Barloworld in 2008. Impey will depart Mitchelton-Scott; Hagen ends his time at Lotto Soudal; and Berwick is transferring from the Australian-based St George Continental Cycling Team.
ISN manager Kjell Carlstrom said, “We are investing both in the present with an experienced, proven rider who can make an immediate impact (Bevin), and in our future with a rider who shows great potential to develop, race and learn from riders like Froome and Martin (Berwick).”
Iván García Cortina will be joining the Spanish-based Team Movistar, from Team Bahrain-McLaren, for a three-year contract. The 25-year-old is considered by some to be one of Spain’s most promising classics riders, He nabbed stage three of the 2020 Paris-Nice. García Cortina will join the team which is home to Alejandro Valverde, Enric Mas, and Marc Soler.
“I’m so happy to become a Movistar Team rider as of 2021. I’ve been at my current team for four years and always felt at ease there, but I feel like it’s time for a change, to seek new ambitions, new goals, new motivation — and I think this is the right team to join this squad. It’s our home team, and we’re chasing a common goal — I’ve always had one race in mind, one personal gamble, which at the same time is one of [the] very few big races this team hasn’t won yet, which is Paris-Roubaix,” the Spaniard wrote in a release.