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TRANSFER ANALYSIS # 5: Trek-Segafredo & Bahrain-Victorious An Exodus of Talent?

Team Transfer Breakdown

Transfer Analysis: In this week’s installment of the Weekly Transfer Analysis, we are breaking down the off-season transfer activity of Trek-Segafredo, who continues to build a promising young roster despite failing to fill their massive grand tour GC contender deficit, and Bahrain-Victorious, who has struggled to replace a significant exodus of talent and is now potentially closer to worrying about staying out of the dreaded ‘relegation zone’ than landing back in the top half of the end-of-season team points rankings.

# You can read the TRANSFER ANALYSIS #1 HERE, the TRANSFER ANALYSIS #2 HERE TRANSFER ANALYSIS #3 HERE and TRANSFER ANALYSIS #4 HERE. #

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

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Trek-Segafredo

  • Notable new signings: Natnael Tesfatsion (Dronehopper), Mathias Vacek (Gazprom), Thibau Nys (Baloise-Trek)
  • Notable departing riders: Gianluca Brambilla (Q36.5)
  • Notable unsigned riders: Simon Pellaud
  • Roster spots remaining: 1 (rookie/neo-pro only)
  • Average age: 27.7
  • Pro Cycling Stats Points In/Out: +502

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Pedersen has been consistent

The team with a surprisingly modest budget has racked up shockingly consistently mid-table PCS finishes over the last five seasons (11th, 12th, 8th, 10th, 13th), but has struggled to find viable grand tour GC options, with Richie Porte’s surprise 3rd place at the 2020 Tour de France as their only grand tour podium finish since 2013. However, after attempting to rebuild the program with an ill-fated 2020/2021 run with the aging Vincenzo Nibali, the team has been quietly building a strong core of promising young talent, with Jasper Stuyven and Mads Pedersen emerging as some of the most consistent stage win/one-day threats. The team has kept this talent ID and development theme going over this off-season and seen the team bring on three promising young riders in Natnael Tesfatsion (23), Mathias Vacek (20) and Thibau Nys (20). None of these riders are likely to bring major victories in 2023, but they signal the team is on the right track and building toward the future.

  • Tesfatsion, an extremely versatile and promising young Eritrean, might have been overshadowed by the exploits of his countryman Biniam Girmay during the 2022 Giro, but he quietly picked up two top ten stage finishes on two widely different stages (bunch sprint & summit finish).
  • The young Nys (son of Cyclocross legend Sven Nys) is an intriguing future prospect, but his contemporary Vacek is already a one-day star in the making. His 2nd place in the U23 2022 World Championships is impressive, but his 6th place at the Veneto portends a big 2023 could await.
  • In terms of outgoing riders, the team’s only major loss is Gianluca Brambilla. While this is a major blow on paper, in reality, the 35-year-old Italian isn’t particularly irreplaceable. He is an incredibly talented rider with star power in his home country (which is an important market for co-sponsor Segafredo), but, over the last four seasons, his major contributions have been a pair of stage wins at the Giro d’Italia. This level of production can be replaced by far cheaper and less demanding riders, and, most importantly, means the team won’t have to invest so many resources in his ill-fated GC campaigns.
  • The only critique that could be leveled at the team’s off-season is that they still lack a viable GC contender and with only a single neo-pro roster slot remaining, appear to have made the decision to continue to eschew a fairly large part of the sport. This is unideal for a team owned/sponsored by one of the world’s biggest bike brands and sponsored by a major Italian company, which would love a viable GC threat for their home grand tour. Considering this, I’m mildly surprised they haven’t made an offer to a rider like Domenico Pozzovivo, who can land himself in a grand tour GC top-ten position without any significant team support.

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Stuyven: Classics man

Bahrain – Victorious

  • Notable new signings: Andrea Pasqualon (Intermarché), Nikias Arndt (DSM), Fran Miholjević (Friuli ASD), Rainer Kepplinger (Hrinkow Advarics)
  • Notable departing riders: Luis León Sánchez (Astana), Sonny Colbrelli (retired), Dylan Teuns (IPT), Jan Tratnik (Jumbo), Domen Novak (UAE)
  • Notable unsigned riders: Stephen Williams
  • Roster spots remaining: 3
  • Average age: 29
  • Pro Cycling Stats Points In/Out: -1106

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Classics and stage wins for Mohorič

The potentially overly ambitiously named team pulled itself out of a tailspin via multiple impressive performances at major races from key riders like Sonny Colbrelli and Matej Mohorič over the last two seasons, but so far, their off-season, which has seen multiple key riders depart without obvious replacements, has left something to be desired and saddled the team with the 4th worst Pro Cycling Stats points inflow/outflow ratio.

  • Even setting aside the devastating health-related retirement of 2021 Paris-Roubaix champion Sonny Colbrelli, the team has experienced an outflow of talent over the past few months. The 39-year-old Luis León Sánchez is an icon, but he hasn’t won a WorldTour race since 2019 and, at his current age, the team is better off parting ways (and frankly I’m surprised that the stagnant Astana team signed him away). The biggest losses are riders like Dylan Tuens (the team’s second-highest points scorer in 2022), Jan Tratnik, and Domen Novak. These types of low-key, and affordable, riders who have the talent to compete for big wins on a regular basis are a key part of a WorldTour team’s middle class, and seeing them head out en masse should be troubling for management. Something else to watch is that the decision to leave was rumored to be due to a poor relationship between these riders and team management.
  • Meanwhile, outside of the 31-year-old Nikias Arndt, none of the incoming riders have a single WorldTour win to their names. Compare this to a total of 24 WorldTour wins between the departing riders. If Bahrain isn’t careful, this imbalance in inflow/outflow could cause them to miss out on enough results to see them fighting to avoid relegation when their WT license expires in 2025.
  • However, one bright spot is the arrival of 20-year-old Fran Miholjević, the reigning Croatian time trial champion, who is a high-upside youngster who could be developed into a competitive grand tour GC contender down the line. On the downside, this type of rider doesn’t usually net immediate success and could take multiple years to bear fruit.
    Considering their current rider pinch, the fact that the extremely promising 26-year-old Stephen Williams is still unsigned is worth noting and something the team should want to remedy in the coming days.
  • Buried in this disappointing transfer performance is the fact that the team has three valuable roster spots remaining and with riders like Nairo Quintana and Mark Cavendish still available, there is still time for a few blockbuster signings to turn around their current points deficit.

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Fred Wright has been close to a win

Free Agent Update: Mark Cavendish & Nairo Quintana Are Somehow Still Available
Just like weeks past, Nairo Quintana and Mark Cavendish are strangely still available with time quickly running out to find a new team. But, unlike weeks past, with Nairo’s brother, Dayer, who has ridden with Nairo throughout the majority of his career, signing a contract this past week with a local Colombian team, we have the first real signs that Nairo’s opportunities to ride in the top-level in 2023 have narrowed considerably.

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Does Quintana have a team for 2023?

Another thing to note is just how much the decrease in team size rules (down to 30 riders from 31 in 2022 and 32 in 2021), has left so many notable riders without contracts heading into the new season. This has particularly squeezed riders like Enrico Battaglin, Ryan Gibbons and Cees Bol, who might be extremely solid riders capable of performing a wide variety of team tasks, but don’t win or rack up UCI points consistently.

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Gibbons struggling to find a new team

But, even with this roster size squeeze, I’ve been surprised to see teams who just wrapped up a brutal promotion/relegation battle leaving riders capable of racking up a significant amount of UCI points but don’t cost a fortune, like Domenico Pozzovivo, Sébastien Reichenbach, and Juan Sebastián Molano, on the market. This perhaps speaks to the fact that even after the inaugural points battle, many teams still haven’t internalized that with the slates being wiped clean at midnight on December 31st, the battle for UCI points will begin in earnest again on January 1.

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Still no home for Domenico Pozzovivo

# Spencer Martin is the author of the cycling-analysis newsletter Beyond the Peloton that breaks down the nuances of each race and answers big picture questions surrounding team and rider performance. Sign up now to get full access to all the available content and race breakdowns. #

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