By Andrew Hood
It’s transfer season and there’s been plenty of action in the days following the conclusion of the 2003 Tour de France. Here’s a recap of some of the week’s major contract extensions and transfers in the pro peloton:
>> Transfer news: Mayo flavor of the month
No less than seven teams are said to be in the bidding for Alpe d’Huez winner Iban Mayo, the most exciting Spanish rider to come through the ranks in years.
Mayo’s contract with Euskaltel-Euskadi runs out at the end of the 2003 season and there’s a long list of foreign teams hoping to sign the 25-year-old rising star from Spain’s Basque Country.
Among the teams hoping to sign Mayo include Phonak, Quick Step, Rabobank, CSC, Bianchi, Cofidis and Saeco, according to reports in the Spanish sports daily Marca. Mayo said he will wait to hear from Euskaltel-Euskadi before making any plans to change teams.
>> Transfer news: Telekom signs Ivanov and Konecny
Team Telekom has signed Russian Sergei Ivanov (Fassa Bortolo) and Tomas Konecny (ED’system) for the 2004 season. Telekom, which will be called T-Mobile next season, will lose the services of sprinter Danilo Hondo, who’s penned a two-year deal with Gerolsteiner.
>> Transfer news: Casper to Cofidis
French sprinter Jimmy Casper has signed a two-year deal with Cofidis. The 25-year-old is one of the more popular figures in French cycling and gained attention in the Tour after racing with a neck-brace after falling hard in a spill in Stage 1.
>> Transfer news: Credit Agricole reloads
Credit Agricole has signed on Russian Alexandre Botcharov (Ag2r) for two years in the latest move as part of its aggressive rebuilding process heading into 2004. The French team has recently signed Patrice Halgand and Sebastian Joly, both of Jean Delatour, as well as Benoit Salmon (Phonak).
>> Transfer news: Popovich stays with Landbouwkrediet
Yaroslav Popovich, third in this year’s Giro d’Italia, has reportedly turned down lucrative offers and decided to stay with Landbouwkrediet-Colnago. The Ukraine rider is one of cycling’s rising stars and proved his value with a solid podium performance at the Giro. The Belgian-Italian Landbouwkrediet-Colnago team has also extended contracts with Ludo Dierckxsens, Johan Verstrepen, Bert De Waele, Ludovic Capelle, Ruslan Gryshenko, Yuri Metlushenko, Mikhail Timochine and Tomas Vaitkus.
>> Transfer news: Simoni, Pieri extend with Saeco
Team Saeco has signed its two biggest names for two years to provide the Italian team a solid foundation in both the grand tours and the one-day classics. Simoni is a two-time Giro d’Italia champion and Pieri is coming off his impressive second-place finish at Paris-Roubaix this spring.
“With Gilberto we’ve formed a partnership which is more than just about major results, we’ve also created a extremely positive atmosphere in the team,” said team manager Claudio Corti on Saeco’s web page. “We’ve got a very strong and united team which we intend to consolidate and develop. The satisfaction of our sponsor Saeco of the company president Sergio Zappella are a confirmation of our good work.”
>> Transfer news: Quick Step signs young guns
Quick Step-Davitamon has penned extensions with three of its young riders for the next two seasons. Jurgen Van Goolen, 22, Patrik Sinkewitz, 22, and Michael Rogers, 23, agreed to terms with the Belgian super-team last week in the Tour de France.
“These riders have broadly shown their qualities during the first part of the season and we are firmly convinced that they still have borders of improvement,” said team manager Patrick Lefevere on the team’s web page.