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Transfer Time # 2: Lidl-Trek Steps Up | INEOS Sheds More Talent

The 2023/24 WorldTour Transfer Market

Transfer Analysis: In part two, Spencer Martin looks at Lidl-Trek, who steps up in the transfer market, as INEOS Grenadiers continues to loose talent. The scrappy overachievers significantly upgrade their roster while INEOS sees five major talents head for the door without any obvious replacements.

– This article is an excerpt from the Beyond the Peloton newsletter. Sign up here for full access. –

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Tao Geoghegan Hart – From INEOS to Lidl-Trek

To continue our in-depth transfer analysis of every WorldTour team, I’ve picked two more squads that have had polar opposite experiences in the market, Ineos and Lidl-Trek. While Lidl-Trek, which is continuing its upwardly mobile rise after coming off an incredible season that saw them vastly outperform their pre-season projections to finish 5th in the UCI Team Rankings, beefed up their roster to avoid falling back to the mean, Ineos, the former British superteam, shed major talent, without bringing in obvious replacements for the second-consecutive off-season by ship out a WorldTour-leading 2,399 Pro Cycling Stats.

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Geraint Thomas – The INEOS GT hope?

INEOS Grenadiers

  • Notable new signings: Andrew (AJ) August (Hot Tubes Development Team)
  • Notable departing riders: Dani Martínez (Bora), Luke Plapp (Jayco), Ben Tulett (Jumbo-Visma), Tao Geoghegan Hart (Lidl-Trek), Pavel Sivakov (UAE)
  • Notable unsigned riders:
  • 2024 Roster Spots Remaining: 4
  • Pro Cycling Stats Points In/Out: -2399

The former superteam, which dominated the Tour de France with its trademark and highly monotonous SkyTrain style from 2012-2019, is on the verge of producing the worst transfer performance in the WorldTour for the second-consecutive season. In addition to whiffing on rumored off-season targets Primož Roglič and Remco, the outfit sees five major talents go out the door, with the only notable signing a single unproven teenage neo-pros, which could be a symptom of their bosses, financial patron Jim Ratcliffe and sporting head Dave Brailsford, being preoccupied with their take(and make)over plan of the Manchester United Football Club, and a rumored €10 million decrease in the team’s budget for the upcoming season.

  • The losses of Dani Martínez, Luke Plapp, Ben Tulett, Tao Geoghegan Hart, Pavel Sivakov all have significant downsides for the team.
    • Geoghegan Hart, based on his performance before crashing out at the 2023 Giro, was one of the only riders on the squad (and the only one under 30) that could legitimately challenge for a grand tour victory at the moment.
    • Tullett, Sivakov, Martínez, and Plapp might not have panned out into world-beaters, but they were all class riders who added an extra dimension to the team’s options at every race they participated in.
      • The fact that riders like Martínez, who showed incredible flashes at the team, and Plapp, who came into the squad with much fanfare in 2022, are leaving after failing to fully develop, shows that the team is clearly struggling to develop its immense amount of in-house young talent.
        • Even a major talent like Tom Pidcock, who has grabbed major victories since being on the team, is tracking a fairly inconsistent path and showed signs of plateauing in 2023 (i.e. he only has two career WorldTour wins at 24 years old compared to Remco Evenepoel’s 20 at just 23).
  • As bad as their off-season has been, signing 18-year-old American AJ August, who has been described as ‘Remco but with more power,’ is certainly a positive, especially since last year’s young signing Joshua Tarling has panned out so quickly and impressively.
    • However, this is where the departure of Plapp, Martínez, and Geoghegan Hart is so troubling since it indicates that those riders identified that in order to develop further, or in the case of Geoghegan Hart, have an opportunity to contest more grand tour victories, they had to leave the team.
  • With up-and-coming talents like Carlos Rodríguez, Thymen Arensman, and Magnus Sheffield, and riders like Pidcock and Geraint Thomas still in the squad, the team still has a great chance to be in the top three in the sport in 2024, even with their dismal transfer performance, but, their inability to develop these talents to consistently contest the sport’s biggest wins means their odds of a climb back to the top is extremely unlikely.

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Can Egan Bernal fight back and stay on his bike?

Lidl – Trek

  • Notable new signings: Andrea Bagioli (Soudal-QuickStep), Tao Geoghegan Hart (Ineos), Jonathan Milan (Bahrain), Patrick Konrad (Bora), Tim Declercq (Soudal-QuickStep)
  • Notable departing riders: Kenny Elissonde (Cofidis), Tony Gallopin (retirement)
  • Notable unsigned riders: Amanuel Ghebreigzabhier
  • 2024 Roster Spots Remaining: 2 (neo-pro only)
  • Pro Cycling Stats Points In/Out: +1763

The historically modestly budgeted squad has seriously upgraded its roster over the past few months, with only the high-flying Bora-Hansgrohe team compiling a higher PCS points in/out balance. Additions of high-profile talents like Tao Geoghegan Hart and Jonathan Milan are balanced by up-and-coming riders like Andrea Bagioli, with veteran cobbled workhorse Tim Declerq adding key Classics support for Mads Pedersen and Jasper Stuyven.

  • These significant roster additions signal that the addition of Lidl as a title sponsor likely gave the team more spending power, but, at least at this point, the team appears to have spent wisely, with most of their targets being cresting younger talents or veterans to play a specific role (i.e., Declerq for the Classics or Patrick Konrad for grand tour mountain support).
    • Tao Geoghegan Hart as the team’s much-needed grand tour GC leader, is a particularly savvy pickup, especially when we consider that he has won a grand tour fairly recently, the 2020 Giro, and looked like a legitimate threat to win the 2023 edition before crashing out on Stage 10.
    • During last year’s Giro, Milan looked like he was potentially the fastest straight-line sprinter in the sport, but just needed a more cohesive and powerful leadout, which Lidl can provide, to take him from winning a single grand tour stage to bagging multiple per every grand tour he starts.
  • For the few weeks where it appeared like Jumbo-Visma and Soudal-QuickStep were merging, which would have flooded the transfer market with 20+ discounted, or even free, quality riders, I was concerned that Lidl-Trek, who signed most of their team early in the 2023 season, had moved too soon.
    • However, with that merging collapsing, it made Lidl-Trek’s early signing strategy look smart and allowed them to pick up Bagioli, who wasn’t a heavily-desired talent, before he broke out at the end of 2024 with three straight podium finishes, including a win at Gran Piemonte and second place at Il Lombardia.
  • Of their outgoing riders, only Amanuel Ghebreigzabhier is likely to be missed since Kenny Elissonde and Tony Gallopin had graduated to elder statesmen roles in recent seasons and were no longer reaping results like they once did.
    • The only potential criticism that could be levied at the team could be their relatively high average age and the fact that they don’t have a single rider under 21 years old.
      • But, with two neo-pro spots still available, this issue could easily be remedied with minimal financial outlay.
  • Had Lidl-Trek sat on their hands this off-season, it would have been difficult to match their 5th-place finish in the 2023 team-wide rankings, but with their aggressive roster acquisitions, they have a good chance to match, if not exceed their 2023 tally.

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Patrick Konrad strengthens the Lidl-Trek line-up

– This article is an excerpt from the Beyond the Peloton newsletter. Sign up here for full access. –

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