Rumours swirl around the cycling world about upcoming transfers for weeks before the sport’s transfer window officially opens on August 1. When that date rolls around, the lid can be lifted on all of the deals that have likely been going on for months behind the scenes, and team’s press officers can get to work creating their jazziest rider announcements on social media. Some riders are announced as soon as the UCI allows it, while other transfers aren’t official until well into the winter. For riders, peace of mind that a contract for the following year is secured is paramount, but it's often their agents who will spend time negotiating with teams for the best deal, which can mean playing the long game.
While salary and bonuses are obviously a key part of contract negotiations, it’s not just for these reasons that riders switch to other teams. It often is about each rider’s personal ambitions, too. For example, they may want more opportunities to race for themselves rather than serve as a domestique, or more support if they are targeting particular races. Some of the key teams to already announce new signings for next year are the likes of Lidl-Trek, Soudal - Quick-Step and Jumbo-Visma, while other teams, like the Ineos Grenadiers, have been mysteriously quiet about any plans they have to bring new riders on board for 2024.
We analyse six of the key transfers that have been announced so far for next season, ascertaining what it means for the riders and the teams they are joining and if it's a positive or questionable move.
Tao Geoghegan Hart - Ineos Grenadiers to Lidl-Trek
British rider Tao Geoghegan Hart’s move to Lidl-Trek from Ineos Grenadiers was one of the most heavily rumoured in cycling circles and was confirmed by the American team two weeks ago. It spells the end of Geoghegan Hart’s seven years as part of the Ineos set-up, the team with which he took the pink jersey at the Giro d’Italia in 2020. Geoghegan Hart’s season in 2023 was curtailed when he crashed out of this year’s Giro fracturing his hip (after looking to be in spectacular form before that). His move to Lidl-Trek signifies a fresh start for the 28-year-old who has, at times, struggled to fulfil the expectations he created when he won the pink jersey three years ago.
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Prior to signing with the Ineos Grenadiers, Geoghegan Hart spent three seasons with renowned American development team Axeon Hagens Berman, where he worked with brands like Trek and SRAM – the British rider noted his excitement to be back in a team with these partners when announcing his signing with Lidl-Trek. Geoghegan Hart also noted that Lidl-Trek having a women’s team – unlike Ineos Grenadiers – was another draw to the American squad. Geoghegan Hart’s potential as a rider certainly is somewhat untapped, he proved at the start of the 2023 season that he is one of the best Grand Tour riders in the world on his day and if he can recover well from his ongoing injury, he will be one to watch for stage races next year. Geoghegan Hart will likely be offered leadership opportunities in Grand Tours by Lidl-Trek too, something that he was not always given as part of Ineos. Above all, a fresh start with new faces, equipment and ethos sounds like it is exactly what the British rider needs to make the final incremental steps to becoming a potential future Tour de France winner.
Ben Tulett - Ineos Grenadiers to Jumbo-Visma
Another rider part of the seemingly mass exodus at Ineos Grenadiers is Ben Tulett. At just 20 years old, Tulett will already be on his third professional team by the time he moves to Jumbo-Visma at the start of 2024. The British rider’s reasoning for deciding to leave Ineos Grenadiers (which he noted was his “dream team” when he originally signed for them back at the start of 2022) haven’t been made especially clear, but he commented that “In my eyes, this is the top team in the sport,” when announcing his Jumbo-Visma transfer a few weeks ago. It’s hard to argue with Tulett’s statement – Jumbo-Visma have been dominant across the board throughout the last couple of seasons, be that in Grand Tours or one-day Classics. It seems to be common knowledge amongst the peloton that the team in yellow and black are always ahead of the game when it comes to marginal gains and ensuring that no stone is left unturned when it comes to preparing for key goals, so it’s unsurprising that Tulett wanted to take his chance to be part of the squad.
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Jumbo-Visma noted that they see the British rider’s main potential as a climber –Tulett has a slight build and has excelled in hilly races before, winning the overall general classification at the Tour of Norway earlier this year. The press release from Jumbo-Visma also stated that Tulett has his sights set on becoming one of the best stage racers in the WorldTour, with three-week Grand Tours set to be the 20-year-old’s stomping ground as his career progresses. It’s fair to say that there is no better place for Tulett to learn than under the guidance of the likes of Jonas Vingegaard and Primož Roglič, The past two seasons have proven that Jumbo-Visma are currently a step ahead of the likes of Ineos Grenadiers when it comes to performance in stage races.
Jonathan Milan - Bahrain Victorious to Lidl-Trek
It’s not just in the mountains that Lidl-Trek has bolstered its talent for the season ahead. With a new sponsor in Lidl has clearly also brought a bigger budget for the team to sign some exciting riders. Jonathan Milan was a revelation of this year’s Giro d’Italia, winning a stage and finishing second in four stages subsequently. Milan’s main barrier to more wins was poor positioning in the run up to the finish line, meaning he had to unleash his sprint early on to make it to the front of the race. It seems like what the Italian rider needs is a strong lead-out train to help him make the most out of his clear raw talent and speed and it could be that he will find this at Lidl-Trek. The likes of Simone Consonni, Daan Hoole, Jasper Stuyven and Quinn Simmons are all riders who could come together to create a fast train for Milan, ensuring he is dropped off in the perfect position at the finish.
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One rider who could stand in the way of Milan’s opportunities at Lidl-Trek, however, is Mads Pedersen, a rider who has been outstanding in the 2023 season. The Danish rider dominated the Tour of Denmark and then went on to win the Bemer Cyclassics in Hamburg from a bunch sprint at the end of August, beating the likes of Elia Viviani and Danny van Poppel. Pedersen will understandably expect sole leadership in Lidl-Trek for races that he believes he stands a chance of winning, which could make it tricky for Milan to get his own opportunities. However, the calendar is big enough that each rider can go for different races and it could be that Milan is able to target the pure bunch sprints, while Pedersen gets his shot at the harder stages and one-day races.
Mikel Landa - Bahrain Victorious to Soudal - Quick-Step
Perhaps one of the more unexpected moves ahead of the 2024 season is Mikel Landa to Soudal - Quick-Step. The Spanish climber has had a solid year in 2023 so far, with multiple top-five finishes in week-long stage races, including a second place behind Jonas Vingegaard in Itzulia Basque Country. His third place in La Flèche Wallonne also highlighted Landa’s versatility as a rider and proved he is still very much in contention to be at the sharp end of races at the highest level. In a sport where the top riders seem to be getting younger and younger, however, at 33 years old, Landa does seem to be approaching the twilight years of his career and his move to Soudal - Quick-Step can be seen to represent this.
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Quick-Step’s star rider, Remco Evenepoel, has been vocal about his team needing to change aspects of its approach to Grand Tours if he is to compete with the likes of Jumbo-Visma and UAE Team Emirates. One of the key factors in Soudal - Quick-Step improving its Grand Tour campaign, according to Evenepoel, is building a stronger team of climbers around him. This is where the signing of Landa comes in; the experienced Spanish rider will be an asset to Evenepoel in the mountains and should be key to ensuring that the Belgian is not outnumbered by other teams at the pointy end of races. With this move comes acceptance for Landa that he will likely now go to Grand Tours with the role of a super-domestique, rather than with opportunities to ride for himself.
Fabio Jakobsen - Soudal - Quick-Step to Team DSM
With Quick-Step having a clear gear change towards focusing on the general classification at races like the Tour de France, it makes sense that top sprinters such as Fabio Jakobsen are looking to leave the team. Jakobsen has been part of the Belgian outfit since he turned professional in 2018, and Quick-Step supported him through recovery from his horror crash at the Tour of Poland in 2020 which led to a spectacular comeback including a Tour stage win in 2022. However, Jakobsen clearly struggled at the 2023 Tour de France, abandoning the race on stage four following a crash the day before in a hectic sprint stage – even before that, though, Jakobsen looked to be slightly off the pace in bunch kicks. With Quick-Step focusing its limited resources on Remco Evenepoel, Jakobsen needs a team to rally around him in full if he is to start winning Tour stages again.Image: Zac Williams/SWpix
Team DSM could certainly be the team to help Jakobsen get back to his winning ways. The Dutch team has a history of sprinting success dating back to when Marcel Kittel won nine Tour de France stages as part of the squad (then with Shimano as the title sponsor.) Team DSM is known for being organised and dialled, dedicating plenty of resources to ensuring that the lead out train is perfected during training. The signing of former Dutch national champion Timo Roosen from Jumbo-Visma is also expected to bolster the lead-out train at DSM, proving the team’s dedication to supporting Jakobsen in full.
Matteo Jorgenson - Movistar to Jumbo-Visma
Matteo Jorgenson made headlines earlier this year when he shared on social media that he had been on a self-funded boot camp of altitude training, motor pacing, and dietary rigour ahead of this year’s Tour de France. While the Movistar rider commented afterwards that this revelation wasn’t supposed to be a snub to his current team, it did raise eyebrows about whether a WorldTour rider of Jorgenson’s level should have to pay for themselves to have this sort of specific training. His move to Jumbo-Visma, known to be one of the most advanced teams in the peloton, comes as little surprise for a rider so dedicated to ensuring his preparation for big races is perfect.
Image: ASO/Thomas Mahuex
Jorgenson is a rider who has been steadily making a name for himself over the past two seasons, largely due to his attacking style on tough terrain which he exhibited at the 2022 Tour de France. His first general classification win at the Tour of Oman at the start of 2023 was confirmation of Jorgenson’s potential and his versatility is likely what drew the attention of Jumbo-Visma, too. While the American rider can climb exceptionally well like he has shown at the Tour and Paris-Nice this year, he can also thrive in the one-day races, finishing fourth at E3 Saxo Classic this year and securing a top-10 at the Tour of Flanders. Jorgenson’s move to Jumbo-Visma works for both parties: the team has secured a versatile, ambitious and strong young talent, while Jorgenson will undoubtedly get the support and professionalism he desires from the Dutch squad.
Cover image by Zac Williams/SWPix