Movers and shakers: The most interesting transfers in professional cycling so far for 2023
The transfer window opened on August 1 and it hasn’t taken teams long to share their latest signings
When the beginning of August rolls round, it’s time to keep a close eye on the social media accounts of all the WorldTour teams. It’s the day when the UCI officially allows them to announce transfers for the following season, and gives us a good indication of the direction each outfit is looking to go in for the year ahead. Some teams might be looking to strengthen their sprinting or climbing contingent, others might be bolstering their roster with some more experienced riders, while many will look to invest in bringing young talent to the pro ranks.
Of course, rumours swirl about transfers long before the 1st of August, and few teams manage to keep big signings under wraps until then. This year was no different: whispers were already spreading at the opening stage of the Tour de France Femmes about Lorena Wiebes’ move to Team SD Worx from Team DSM, while U23 Giro d’Italia winner Leo Hayter was spotted on an Ineos Grenadiers training camp weeks before the transfer window opened.
In the men’s professional peloton, the likes of Groupama-FDJ, Alpecin Deceuninck, Team BikeExchange-Jayco and Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux have already been extremely busy, announcing multiple new signings each so far. The women’s WorldTour has remained a little more cagey, but with some exciting signings nonetheless.
Lorena Wiebes, Team DSM to Team SD Worx
Despite having a contract with Team DSM until 2024, the fastest sprinter in the women’s peloton is moving teams for next season. Team SD Worx announced that Wiebes had a clause in her contract meaning that she could leave DSM if she received a higher offer from elsewhere. With the money on offer from the Team SD Worx, it’s rumoured that Wiebes will now be the highest paid rider in the entire women’s WorldTour.
Team SD Worx also implied in the press release that they were missing a pure sprinter from their line-up and that Lotte Kopecky would still be the team’s key rider for the Classics. It will be interesting to see how Wiebes fares without the dialled lead-out train she has become used to at Team DSM, but with the firepower of Team SD Worx, it’s likely that they will be able to replicate this. With Wiebes, Vollering and Kopecky in their squad for 2023, Team SD Worx are going to be very hard to beat next seson and we can expect them to be dominant on a variety of parcours. They still are yet to find an answer to Tour de France Femmes winner Annemiek van Vleuten in the mountains though – can anyone?
Image: Zac Williams/SWpix
Tim Merlier, Alpecin-Deceuninck to Soudal-Quickstep
Another big sprinter who will change jerseys in 2023 is Tim Merlier. The current Belgian national champion will be moving to Quickstep next season, leaving behind the ProTeam of Alpecin-Deceuninck where he has built his career so far. It appears that Merlier will fill the expected gap in Patrick Levefere’s team for a second sprinter – Lefevere has already said that Mark Cavendish won’t be riding for Quickstep next season, but the Manxman’s new team is not yet known.
Merlier himself has had a respectable year so far in 2022, winning four races including Nokere Koerse and Bruuge-de-Panne. The 29-year-old will likely hope to get more results at Soudal-Quickstep, especially if he is treated to the famous Michael Mørkøv lead out which has helped a plethora of sprinters to Grand Tour stage wins. Merlier will still probably be regarded as the team’s secondary sprinter, however, with Tour de France stage winner Fabio Jakobsen remaining with the squad until at least 2023.
Leo Hayter, Hagens Berman Axeon to Ineos Grenadiers
The announcement of the U23 Giro d’Italia winner joining his brother at the Ineos Grenadiers didn’t come as a surprise to most of us. Hayter has been training in Andorra with the British team in recent weeks and will stagiaire for the squad for this season before joining the team officially next year. Hayter’s results in the U23 ranks have been formidable: he won the U23 edition of Liège–Bastogne–Liège last year and his win in the Giro d’Italia has proved he is one of the best climbers in the current U23 crop of riders.
The British rider looks like he could develop in to a general classification rider in years to come, and the Ineos Grenadiers – formerly Team Sky – have a strong track record of developing young talent in to Grand Tour contenders. It will be a big step up for Hayter to head to the WorldTour in 2023 and it will be interesting to see how he copes with the increased race days and training load – he hasn’t had a huge number of race days this season.
Joshua Tarling, FlandersColor-Galloo Team to Ineos Grenadiers
Another young British talent who will head to the Ineos Grenadiers next season is Joshua Tarling. The 18-year-old has been picked up by the team straight out of the junior ranks – a trend that is becoming more and more common in the world of professional cycling. Tarling has been making waves on the British domestic scene as well as in international junior events – in 2021 he finished second in the junior time trial at the World Championships and this year he has won the Tour de Gironde International in France and finished sixth in the Trophée Centre Morbihan.
The signing of Tarling is a continuation of the youthful transfer policy that Ineos have put in to place in recent years and one that has been paying dividends in race results – their cohort of young talent ripped up the Classics earlier this season. Signing a rider who is yet to experience a taste of riding in the elites and allowing him to completely skip the U23 ranks is a risk, however, and it will take careful planning for Ineos to ensure they don’t give Tarling too much to cope with too soon.
Letizia Paternoster, Trek-Segafredo to Team BikeExchange
Track and road sprinter Letizia Paternoster’s move to Team BikeExchange is set to strengthen the Australian team’s sprinting contingent and could make them one of the teams that will challenge the likes of Wiebes in the fast finishes. Paternoster is a multiple world and European champion, plus she has finished on the podium in Gent-Wevelgem in the past. Paternoster will join the likes of Alexandra Manly and Ruby Roseman-Gannon at BikeExchange, both of whom are already established sprinters themselves. The trio combined could make a formidable lead out train, it will simply be a case of deciding which of the riders they sprint for.
Paternoster will also have to spend plenty of time with the Italian national team in the upcoming two years before the Paris 2024 Olympics – she is a crucial part of the team pursuit squad. BikeExchange will need to manage the Italian rider’s commitments here with the ever-growing Women’s WorldTour calendar. For a rider who is only 23-years-old, Paternoster has impressive palmares and a wealth of experience, so her signing for BikeExchange is a serious indication that the Australian outfit are looking to step up next year.
Mike Teunissen, Jumbo Visma to Intermarché - Wanty - Gobert Matériaux
With Jumbo-Visma excelling in 2022 with the likes of Christophe Laporte and Wout van Aert, Teunissen is a rider who was struggling to get opportunities to race for himself in the stacked Dutch squad. The 29-year-old Dutch rider is a winner in his own right; he has a Tour de France stage victory and wore the yellow jersey in 2019, plus has had some respectable results in the Classics.
He is suited to punchy, hard terrain and is a the perfect all-rounder to help position his team leaders well before crucial parts of the race. Teunissen has the ability to ride on the front of the peloton and chase down moves when required, and this will make him an asset to Intermarché next season. The Belgian team have the incredibly talented sprinter Biniam Girmay in their ranks for next year, and Teunissen will serve as a great lead-out man and domestique for the Eritrean rider when the Dutchman isn’t going for his own chances.
Eddie Dunbar, Ineos Grenadiers to Team BikeExchange
As the Ineos Grenadiers sign more and more young climbers, it’s not surprising to see Eddie Dunbar move to a team where he can get more opportunities to race for himself, or even have a team built around him. Dunbar proved he is still capable of winning big races earlier this season by taking the overall at Coppi e Bartali, but the Irish rider will want to aim bigger in 2023, potentially planning to target stage wins Grand Tours, a chance he would have found hard to get at Ineos Grenadiers.
Alexander Kristoff, Intermarché - Wanty - Gobert Matériaux to Team UNO-X
It’s not surprising that Team UNO-X wanted one of the all-time greats of Norwegian cycling in their team. Kristoff has signed a three-year contract with the UNO-X and will be 38-years-old at the end of this, which implies that UNO-X is the team where he plans to end his career. Kristoff has still been winning this season, perhaps most impressively with a solo victory in a savage edition of Scheldeprijs back in April. His win here signifies that, although Kristoff may not be the fastest in a straight bunch kick, his capabilities are not limited to that and he can contest the victory in other ways, too.
With UNO-X’s aim to move up to the WorldTour, they will need to start scoring plenty of UCI points to be in contention, and Kristoff could be the ticket to help them do this. Even though he may not win as often anymore, the Norwegian rider is consistently in the top-10. He will also be an asset to the team due to his years of experience in the professional peloton, helping to develop the younger riders coming through.
Ashleigh Moolman-Pasio, Team SD Worx to AG Insurance NXTG
Despite initially announcing that she would retire at the end of this season, Ashleigh Moolman-Pasio has announced a new contract with AG Insurance NXTG. She confirmed that she is still improving year on year and that her form was better than ever in 2022. Currently only a UCI Continental Team, AG Insurance NXTG have applied for a WorldTour license in 2023.
Moolman-Pasio will likely get more leadership opportunities in this team than she would at Team SD Worx where she has often had to ride in support of Demi Vollering. The South African rider wants to target the Ardennes Classics as well as the yellow jersey at the Tour de France Femmes next year. She will also be mentoring the younger riders on the team using her wealth of experience in the professional peloton.
Tim Wellens, Lotto-Soudal to UAE Team Emirates
After being with Lotto-Soudal since 2012, Tim Wellens has opted to move to UAE Team Emirates for 2023 and 2024. "After 10 great years with my former team I decided it was time for a new challenge. I feel like I’m joining a truly global team at UAE Emirates with a really professional structure and a lot of ambition. I’m very excited to get started and be part of the squad for 2023 and beyond," The Belgian rider explained in the team's press release.
Exactly what Wellens' role will be at UAE Team Emirates is unclear, he is a rider who thrives in the one-day races, but also can perform well in shorter stage races. If UAE Team Emirates has ambitions in the Classics next season, then the signing of Wellens is a good move. He could also help the likes of Pogačar in Grand Tours if cobbled or gravel stages become more of a regular occurrence.
Søren Kragh Andersen, Team DSM to Alpecin-Deceuninck
A Classics and breakaway specialist, Kragh Andersen is a good signing for Alpecin-Deceuninck who are likely looking to strengthen the team that Mathieu van der Poel has around him in the Classics. The Dutch talent has often been left isolated in the finales of the biggest one-day races and Kragh Andersen is a rider who can be relied on to be there at crunch time. The Danish rider will also have the opportunity to hunt for Grand Tour stage wins in his new team as they are without a GC contender.
Friction already looked like it was emerging between Kragh Andersen and Team DSM as the Dane wasn't picked to go to the Tour de France, despite the Grand Depart taking place in his home country. It seems like his move to Alpecin-Deceuninck is a good move for all involved parties.
Bob Jungels AG2R Citroën Team to BORA-Hansgrohe
The 2018 Liège-Bastogne-Liège winner has had a rollercoaster two seasons, but his move to BORA-Hansgrohe makes sense for both parties. Jungels is one of the most versatile riders in the peloton, excelling in the Ardennes classics, able to finesse the cobbles, while also climbing well in the mountains. He finished 12th at this year’s Tour de France and took a win on stage nine to Châtel les portes du Soleil.
BORA-Hansgrohe wrote in their press release that Luxembourg rider’s “potential is not yet fully exhausted". Jungels will further strengthen the German team’s roster in Grand Tours and contribute to their ever-growing ability to compete with some of the biggest teams in tough mountain stages. BORA-Hansgrohe expects Jungels’ versatility to be an asset to the squad’s attempt to “make it difficult for our competitors to predict our racing.” For Jungels, he will hope to perform more consistently in the upcoming season and take any opportunity he gets to go for his own victories.
Mavi García, UAE Team ADQ to Liv Racing Xstra
Spanish rider Mavi García is one of the most exciting riders in the women’s peloton. She finished third in the Giro d’Italia Donne and won a stage of the Vuelta Burgos Feminas earlier this year, meaning she went into the Tour de France Femmes as a big favourite for the overall. Multiple crashes and mishaps in the race spoiled her chances in La Grande Boucle in the end, however, García remains one of the top competitors for the race in 2023.
Her move to Liv Racing Xstra is a big signing for the Dutch squad who have failed to really make their mark on the racing this season. The signing signifies the team’s serious GC aims for next year, and we are expecting to see more climbing talent join the team over the next few weeks to strengthen the team around García in the mountains.
For a full list of the confirmed transfers for the 2023 season please see below:
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Cover image: ASO