Slow start to trading season; Porte only big deal confirmed yet

After starting out with a bang, the 2015 trading season has cooled off with no major moves announced yet a the WorldTour level.

Two weeks into the peloton’s trading window, and it’s clear that the marketplace has cooled off after a couple of active seasons.

Since the August 1 window opened, Richie Porte’s move from Sky to BMC Racing has been the only major change announced so far.

“Teams are waiting longer this year. No one is in a hurry,” one rider agent told VeloNews. “Deals are usually done on the rest days at the Tour, but this year, teams are going to be waiting until August.”

Teams will sometimes wait to announce a move, but that’s usually not the case when the deal is already a poorly kept secret, such as with Porte’s switch to BMC, or Peter Sagan’s move to Tinkoff-Saxo at the start of this year. When the deals are not announced right away, it means that behind-the-scenes negotiations are taking longer, and that usually means riders are not getting their asking prices.

One factor is that there are no new major players in the marketplace. Last year, Oleg Tinkov was making a big splash with Tinkoff-Saxo, signing such riders as Peter Sagan and Ivan Basso. MTN-Qhubeka was picking up riders as it made a push to earn a Tour de France bid, signing nine major names coming into 2015.

Another diluting factor is Europcar’s unconfirmed status. The title sponsor is leaving, and management of the French team said it has a sponsor lined up for 2016, but if the team folds, a flood of riders could be on the marketplace, further weakening the position of anyone left scrambling for a job.

Teams are also in holding pattern, waiting to see what shakes out of proposed reforms for 2017 that could dramatically alter the size of teams by reducing the WorldTour roster to as few as 25 riders, down from the current cap of 29.

BMC Racing general manager Jim Ochowicz said Porte is the only big move the team is making going into 2016.

“The door is about closed for us,” Ochowicz told VeloNews. “If we have room, we might sign one more rider. We made a huge play by adding Richie, so if we add anyone, it won’t be as significant as that.”

There are several top riders up for contract, including Mark Cavendish, Michal Kwiatkowski, and Rigoberto Urán, all Etixx-Quick-Step, but so far, no one’s been in a hurry to seal those deals, or at least publicly reveal them.

One team that looks to be picking up the slack is Team Sky. Though the well-funded squad has yet to reveal its new signings, it’s said to be close to signing Kwiatkowski, Mikel Landa (Astana), and Spanish riders Beñat Intxausti and Gorka Izagirre from Movistar.

Tinkoff-Saxo is said to be in talks with Filippo Pozzato (Lampre-Merida), while Christopher Juul-Jensen (Tinkoff-Saxo) and Amets Txurruka (Caja Rural-Seguros RGA) are both confirmed for Orica-GreenEdge. Peter Weening is leaving Orica to join Dutch outfit Roompot-Oranje Peloton.

Many teams are re-signing their established riders. Joaquim Rodríguez has signed on to stay with Katusha, while Adam Hansen and Greg Henderson have re-upped at Lotto-Soudal. Samuel Sánchez also extended for one more season with BMC.

There have been a flurry of high-profile retirements that further softened the rider market, including Cadel Evans (BMC Racing), Bradley Wiggins (Sky), Alessandro Petacchi (Southeast), Gert Steegmans (Trek Factory Racing), Alexander Kolobnev (Katusha), Jerome Pineau (IAM), Anthony Geslin (Ag2r-La Mondiale), and Ted King (Cannondale-Garmin).