TRANSFER ANALYSIS # 6: Alpecin-Deceuninck & DSM Who’s In and Who’s Out?
More rider moves
Transfer Analysis: In this week’s installment of the Weekly Transfer Analysis, Spencer Martin is breaking down the off-season transfer activity of Alpecin-Deceuninck, who has doubled down on their narrow, but highly successful, recruitment strategy, and DSM, who continues to struggle to retain their top talent for yet another transfer season while failing to bring in either proven veterans or the level of young talent that could turn into future winners. This dangerous cocktail, along with a recent habit of finishing near the bottom of the end-of-season team points rankings, means they could very easily find themselves one of the most obvious relegation candidates in the coming seasons.
Alpecin-Deceuninck isn’t all about Mathieu van der Poel
- Notable new signings: Søren Kragh Andersen (DSM), Ramon Sinkeldam (FDJ), Quinten Hermans (Intermarche), Kaden Groves (BikeExchange), Nicola Conci (Alpecin Development Team)
- Notable departing riders: Tim Merlier (QuickStep), Jay Vine (UAE)
- Notable unsigned riders: N/A
- Roster spots remaining: 0
- Average age: 27.8
- 2022 PCS Point Finish: 8th
- Off-Season Pro Cycling Stats Points In/Out: +218
The star of Zwift, Jay Vine, has gone to UAE
Instead of branching out in an attempt to become a more well-rounded team, the bootstrapped Belgian squad has doubled down on their strategy of stacking their team with riders capable of picking off flat-to-rolling stage wins and one-day races as they enter their first year in the WorldTour. This might run counter to conventional wisdom, which states that as your team profile rises, you need to branch out to become competitive across the board, but in my view, it is the right decision since outfits with limited budgets who have attempted to branch out in recent years have spread themselves too thin and found themselves struggling to rack up any significant results. Also, the fact that they are located in Belgium, which is the heartland for one-day and stage-hunting riders, and light on climbers and stage hunters, makes this an even more natural fit.
Tour stage winner Søren Kragh Andersen is in
- The major coup of the off-season is the arrival of Søren Kragh Andersen from DSM, a strong classics rider who poached two stages at the 2020 Tour de France, and Quinten Hermans, who had a breakout 2022, culminating in a 2nd place at Liege. Both riders are in their prime (27 & 28) and will slot into their current squad extremely well. Part of the appeal is that they can win on their own, but can also work for Mathieu van der Poel, the team’s superstar when needed. In short, this is a perfect fit.
- The young sprinter Kaden Groves comes over from BikeExchange, and with a grand tour stage win already on his palmarès, should serve as a great replacement for the outgoing Tim Merlier.
- Nicola Conci, who the team picked up after he was left without a ride following the collapse of the Gazprom outfit, is an unknown 25-year-old Italian who quietly scored two impressive rides at the Giro del Veneto and the Veneto Classic to finish off the season and could emerge as a partial replacement for Jay Vine.
- Ramon Sinkeldam, who the team recently picked up after the last-minute collapse of B&B hotels, is a veteran domestique who can perform valuable work for Van der Poel in the spring classics.
- The losses of Tim Merlier and Jay Vine, the team’s third and fourth most important riders in terms of 2022 UCI points, are tough to stomach, but, with this solid off-season haul, which has netted them an impressive net gain in PCS points (currently sitting 5th best), the front office has already put the team on the right path for the future.
DSM’s biggest signing, Patrick Bevin
- Notable new signings: Patrick Bevin (IPT), Harm Vanhoucke (Lotto)
- Notable departing riders: Thymen Arensman (Ineos), Søren Kragh Andersen (DSM), Nikias Arndt (Bahrain), Nico Denz (Bora), Casper Pedersen (QuickStep)
- Notable unsigned riders: Cees Bol
- Roster spots remaining: 0
- Average age: 24.7
- 2022 PCS Point Finish: 20th
- Off-Season Pro Cycling Stats Points In/Out: -915
DSM have lost Nikias Arndt to Bahrain
After their fantastic 2020 season, where they finished 5th in the PCS points rankings, the Dutch squad has hit a rough patch, finishing a dismal 21st in 2021 and 20th in 2020 (with only 18 teams in the 1st division, this means they are consistently being outperformed by 2nd division teams). The origin of these on-road struggles has been the consistent exodus of the team’s top talent in the transfer market, and this off-season has been no different.
DSM Team Wins Per Season
While the team has been able to stave off the most catastrophic outcomes of this trend so far due to extremely efficient young rider recruitment, at some point, the bill will come due if they can’t find a way to hold onto their best riders.
Harm Vanhoucke, the solid, but not outstanding, climber
- In terms of incoming talent, Patrick Bevin, the veteran 31-year-old Kiwi who has the ability to rack up podium finishes at lower-level WorldTour races (finished 1st, 2nd, and 3rd on the first three stages of the 2022 Tour de Romandie) and, Harm Vanhoucke, the solid, but not outstanding, climber/GC from Lotto, are the big headlines.
- But, while these are two good riders, their additions don’t come close to making up for the massive amount of talent, and points, going out the door. Outside of losing talented one-day talents like Casper Pedersen and Søren Kragh Andersen, the team sees one of its budding stars, the 23-year-old Thymen Arensman, who won a stage en route to an impressive 6th place overall at the 2022 Vuelta.
- Outside of losing a net of 913 PCS points over the transfer season, the team saw 15 career WorldTour wins go out the door this off-season while only bringing in a total of 2. This is a major issue for a team that was already struggling to generate results.
- It is safe to say Cees Bol has been underwhelming, but with so much talent going out the door over the off-season, it is somewhat mystifying to me why the team didn’t retain the 27-year-old journeyman sprinter, who is still without a contract with just a few weeks remaining before the start of the 2023 season.
There is bound to be more champagne for Alpecin and van der Poel
# 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. #