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Transfer Analysis #8: BORA – Hansgrohe & AG2R Citroën

Transfer Analysis In 2022’s final installment of ‘Transfer Analysis’, Spencer Martin breaks down the off-season transfer activity of BORA – Hansgrohe and AG2R Citroën, who are both attempting to balance building for the future via the acquisition of young talents while fostering the ambitions of their in-house grand tour general classification (GC) stars.


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Vlasov – BORA’s top GC man?

BORA – Hansgrohe

  • Notable new signings: Bob Jungels (AG2R), Nico Denz (DSM), Victor Koretzky (B&B), Florian Lipowitz (Tirol KTM)
  • Notable departing riders: Wilco Kelderman (Jumbo), Felix Großschartner (UAE), Lukas Pöstlberger (BikeExchange)
  • Notable unsigned riders: N/A
  • Roster spots remaining: 0
  • Average age: 27.5
  • 2022 PCS Point Finish: 4th
  • Off-Season Pro Cycling Stats Points In/Out: -102

Kelderman gone

Ralph Denk’s German team, who has found a way to consistently punch out results year-after-year that without the big budget of their rivals through savvy transfer market maneuvering, has undergone a somewhat transformative, off-season that has seen them part with veteran talents, like Wilco Kelderman, while doubling down, and bringing in additional, high-upside young riders.

  • The departure of the 31-year-old Wilco Kelderman, who was the team’s major GC star after coming over from DSM before the 2021 season, 28-year-old Nico Denz and 29-year-old Felix Großschartner, combined with the signing of the young German climber, Florian Lipowitz to compliment the presence of 19-year-old rising GC superstar Cian Uijtdebroeks, signals that the team is ready to take a drastic turn towards youth in the near future.
  • This shift to youth mirrors the team’s strategic shift they employed before losing heliocentric star Peter Sagan, which allowed them to lose one of the sport’s biggest stars without suffering a decrease in their performance.
  • These younger members of the roster will come into a team already in the midst of a solid rebuild due to the rise of younger in-house grand tour GC talents like Jai Hindley and Aleksandr Vlasov.
  • The addition of the 30-year-old Bob Jungels, who appears to be back in a form that resembles his prime after a few lean years spent struggling with energy, will strengthen their squad across nearly every type of race, from hilly one-day monuments to grand tour GC campaigns.
  • In short, while the organization did lose some of its most consistent talents and did suffer a net loss of 102 PCS points, when viewed in context, the totality of the moves signals the team is aggressively building towards the future and thinks their best days are to come.

Cian Uijtdebroeks
Cian Uijtdebroeks – BORA big hope for the future

AG2R Citroën

  • Notable new signings: Alex Baudin (Tudor), Bastien Tronchon (AG2R U23 Team), Pierre Gautherat (SCO Dijon)
  • Notable departing riders: Bob Jungels (Bora), Lilian Calmejane (Intermarché), Clément Champoussin (Arkéa)
  • Notable unsigned riders: N/A
  • Roster spots remaining: 2
  • Average age: 27.4
  • 2022 PCS Point Finish: 12th
  • Off-Season Pro Cycling Stats Points In/Out: -815

Not the end of Van Avermaet yet?

The past half-decade has seen the long-standing French team fight for mid-table relevancy while their small number of star riders have consistently racked up quality results across the board. However, this past off-season, where they lost talents like Bob Jungels and Clément Champoussin while bringing in relatively unproven talents and sending out a net of 815 PCS points, from an already low total, has seen them potentially stretch this ‘lean and mean’ strategy to its limits.

  • The team brings in a pair of talented young French climbers in the form of 21-year-old Alex Baudin and 20-year-old Bastien Tronchon. They might not produce results immediately, but this is exactly the type of move a French team like AG2R, which has long-term sponsor stability, should be making.
  • Also, 19-year-old Pierre Gautherat, who scored highly impressive results during his month-long internship with the team in late 2022 (including 10th at the Primus Classic), could give the team a bonafide one-star classic star in the coming years.
  • On top of a surprisingly talented core that includes Benoît Cosnefroy and Ben O’Connor, who are both entering their prime years, the team’s off-season could potentially set them up for a strong roster in the coming years, even if they see a team-wide performance drop in the immediate future.
    • Also, due to their highly stable sponsor situation with the French insurance giant AG2R, this isn’t a major concern as long as they avoid relegation and make sure to win at least one Tour de France stage, along with contending for the overall top five with O’Connor.
  • In addition, the team’s two remaining spots mean that they have room to pick up any available free agents to patch any holes that emerge over the coming weeks.

Pierre Gautherat
Young Pierre Gautherat showed well as a stagiaire

Free Agent Update: Mark Cavendish to Astana? Plus, what is Going on With Nairo Quintana & Miguel Ángel López?
Mere minutes after I sent out last week’s transfer update where I predicted Mark Cavendish to Israel-Premier Tech was all but a done deal, word came out that the veteran sprinter, and biggest name free agent left on the market, had signed for Astana following their firing of Miguel Ángel López due to his close association with the head of a PED dealing ring.

  • While this move would make sense due to Astana’s WorldTour status giving them an automatic invitation to the 2023 Tour de France, there still remains to be a public announcement that Cavendish has indeed put pen to paper with the team.
  • This either tells us that the initial rumors weren’t exactly arcuate and were a move from Cavendish’s team to increase his price at the last minute (I believe his talks with smaller teams like Human Powered Health were also designed to increase the bids he was receiving from WorldTour teams) or that both parties are waiting until after the New Year Holiday in order to maximize publicity from the announcement. The latter is the more likely option, but the highly chaotic nature of cycling’s last-minute backroom dealing means I wouldn’t completely rule out the former.

All quiet on the Cavendish front recently

There might be multiple WorldTour teams with roster spots remaining from 2023 (from a quick glance, the following teams have an available roster spot: AG2R, Astana, Bahrain, FDJ, Intermarche, Jumbo, QuickStep and Trek), but the doping chatter around Nairo Quintana and Miguel Ángel López has become so toxic that it now seems highly unlikely they will be able to sign with any team wishing to maintain their outward-looking reputation (aka, all of these teams outside of Astana).

  • This means there is a very good chance that both riders, who still have some big-time GC gas left in the tank, could very well be riding for 2nd division teams who want to gain grand tour invitations in the coming season (Israel, Q36.5, EOLO, etc.).
  • This would have seemed almost impossible to imagine just six months ago, especially after Quintana got 6th overall at the Tour de France and López finished 4th overall at the Vuelta a España, but, very public terminations from their existing teams due to questionable ethical decisions have left them with very few good options and thrown a potential lifeline to upwardly mobile teams wishing to muscle a path into one of the sport’s three grand tours.

lopez quintana
What next for ‘SooperLópez’ and ‘Nairoman’?

# 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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