Silly season: Lopez re-ups, Paulinho back to roots, Txurruka no contract

With Tinkoff and IAM Cycling disbanding, riders scramble for contracts. David Lopez returns to Sky, but Amets Txurruka is without a team.

We’re almost to the end of silly season, and riders are still scrambling to secure their professional futures. There have been a few blockbuster deals, like Peter Sagan’s move to Bora, but many teams are holding their line with Tinkoff and IAM Cycling shuttering.

Most of the major WorldTour teams have already closed their rosters for the 2017 season, meaning riders left without a seat are looking for contracts wherever they can. For some, that means a bump down in the peloton.

Sergio Paulinho, a longtime lieutenant for Alberto Contador, is set to return to his Portuguese roots next season after more than a decade at the WorldTour level. The 36-year-old was left without a contract following the closure of Tinkoff, his home since 2012, and will join the Portuguese Efatel Continental team next season.

Another Spanish veteran, Amets Txurruka, told the website Ciclismo Internacional that he his contract with Orica – Bike Exchange is not being renewed for next season. The Basque rider, who turns 34 this week, said he’s looking for a team.

“I was aware that this might have happened, since I only had a contract for one year, but I would have liked to have had another year to show what I was capable of,” he told the website. “They were happy with the work that I had done, but with the young Australians they have, like Power and Haig, they decided to go for other riders.”

David López, meanwhile, has re-upped with Team Sky through 2017. The Spanish domestique provided key support to Chris Froome during this year’s Vuelta a España.

“It’s always difficult to extend and stay with this team because the level is so high,” said López, 35. “The team this year at the Tour de France did a great job, but in the end, they recognized the work I did at the Vuelta a España. I feel part of the team, and it will already be five seasons, and I happy to be able to continue. Next year I will be one of the most veteran riders on the team.”

Team Sky was relatively quiet on the rider marketplace this season, signing two promising riders: Italian GC candidate Diego Rosa (Astana) and French climber Kenny Elissonde (FDJ), as well as Owain Doull, Tao Geohegan Hart, and Lukasz Wisniowski.