Now that more than month has passed since the last World Tour race we have to get progressively more creative to fill the time. Well, today let’s look at the cycling transfers 2022 that have already happened. Which are the most impactful ones? Can we predict which signings are going to be a home-run? And which are going to bust? In this article, I try to provide some insight on the transfer market so far. There are some fantastic signings, in my opinion, but also some true headscratchers. I will start with the best signing for 2022, made, from my point of view, by UAE Team Emirates.
João Almeida (Deceuninck – Quick Step > UAE Team Emirates)
This is the signing of the season for me. Almeida is only 23 years of age and, quite frankly, was much better than his 6th place overall in this year’s Giro shows. Nevertheless, he confirmed that last year’s 5th place wasn’t a fluke, and I believe he will be a top rider for years to come. Hopefully he gets some freedom in the Giro or the Vuelta to lead the team and, if he consistently gets these opportunities, I believe he will be a Grand Tour winner within the next 3 years.
Miguel Angel Lopez (Movistar > Astana Qazaqstan)
After Lopez’s tantrum and Movistar’s track record with South American riders, this deal was all but done. Lopez goes back to a team where he shined and Astana gets a top rider that guarantees them important results. Win-win. The only loser is obviously Movistar whose presence in Latin America (an important market for the team) suffers another blow. The Spanish team tried to mitigate Lopez’s loss with fellow Colombian Ivan Sosa’s signing from Ineos. Sosa is still a very young rider and, despite not progressing as well as Ineos was expecting, still has plenty of time to improve. He doesn’t compare to Lopez right now so this is still a blow to Movistar but, in time, Sosa might prove to be a very good replacement.
Aleksandr Vlasov (Astana Qazaqstan > Bora-Hansgrohe)
Astana not being the financial powerhouse it once was has consequences. Vlasov is a huge loss, but a calculated one. The team still kept Kazakh Alexey Lutsenko and replaced Vlasov with Miguel Angel Lopez. Debatable but understandable. Bora gains a phenomenal rider, though.
Peter Sagan (Bora-Hansgrohe > Team TotalEnergies)
I think this is exactly what both parts needed. Kind of like when Quintana went to Arkea, except, hopefully, Sagan still has something left in the tank. I love when a veteran rider thinks he should still be a team leader and has no problems “stepping down” in the ranks to prove it. Sure, these deals are usually boom or bust (usually bust, to be fair) for the teams because when a smaller team invests a lot of money in one veteran rider their season becomes heavily dependent on that rider’s performance. Still, despite Sagan not being Sagan in 2021, he still had way better results than anything Team TotalEnergies has achieved in a long time. So, let’s root for this unlikely partnership and hope the Slovak rider shows why he should still be the leader of a team in 2022.
Sam Bennett (Deceuninck – Quick Step > Bora-Hansgrohe)
The Irishman is finally free from Quick Step. As a bonus, he goes back to a team he knows well. Even with all the controversy he went through in 2021, he still managed some important wins during the season. He will surely be highly motivated for 2022. The departures of Peter Sagan and Pascal Ackermann mean that Bennett has full claim to Bora’s sprinting aspirations for the 2022 season.
Jai Hindley (Team DSM > Bora-Hansgrohe)
After a breakout 2020 season, this one was marred by injuries for the Australian rider. This signing is a bit of a wildcard because if 2020 Hindley shows up next season then Bora has a fantastic lineup for stages races.
Marc Soler (Movistar > UAE Team Emirates)
For a rider that has been outspoken about not wanting to wait for a team leader, moving to a team where he will surely have to do it doesn’t make a lot of sense. It’s debatable whether that instruction made sense at the time but, regardless, he’s likely going to get that order a lot in Team UAE. Financially, I’m sure it was great deal and that’s what matters. That’s important for everybody. I just hope he won’t think he deserves more than what he will get. Unless he improves significantly, Soler is 100% a domestique in this team. For UAE this is another good signing, strengthening Pogacar’s team for the Tour, which should 100% be their priority.
Alexander Kristoff (UAE Team Emirates > Intermarché – Wanty – Gobert Matériaux)
I’m sure the Belgian team wants to do better in the Belgian classics and Kristoff gives them the possibility to achieve just that. The Norwegian is already 34 years old so only he knows how much of a factor he can still be. Still, the fact is that riders of his quality are not just growing on trees. Intermaché had a goal, identified a reasonable target, and signed him. Let’s see how this goes.
Rohan Dennis (INEOS Grenadiers > Jumbo-Visma)
Almost everybody needs a rider like Rohan Dennis on the team. His talent is off the charts. Jumbo-Visma though? The only way he would make them stronger is on team time trials. There are no team trials in the 2022 Tour. Maybe in other Grand Tours? Anyway, this doesn’t seem like a good enough reason to make this signing. He will surely do a great job whenever called upon because he is a great rider, but I don’t think Jumbo-Visma was missing domestiques in 2021.
John Degenkolb (Lotto-Soudal > Team DSM)
I could say that I’m hopeful for the next step of his career because I felt he needed a change of scenery to flourish again. But this could have been written almost every season since 2015. The German is just 32 years old so he still has plenty of time to revive his career. However, as of now, the fact is that he peaked at 26 and from then on has just been declining.
Pascal Ackermann (Bora-Hansgrohe > UAE Team Emirates)
This transfer is a bit weird for me. I understand that the Tour de France is just a 3-week race out of a long season and that the team needs to be competitive in other races. But UAE Team Emirates already has sprinters Fernando Gaviria, Juan Sebastian Molano, and Matteo Trentin. The latter might not be the sprinter he once was but he still is a quality rider. More importantly, none of these riders developed at all after coming to this team. In fact, they haven’t yet replicated the results that made UAE Team Emirates sign them. If it was just one sprinter underperforming, sure, bring in Ackermann and let’s see what he can do. But with three different quality sprinters underperforming in the team, I don’t think a fourth will solve the problem. It’s probably not the riders’ problem so Ackermann’s arrival won’t solve anything.
Jakob Fuglsang (Astana – Premier Tech > Israel Start-Up Nation)
A three-year contract for a 36-year-old rider coming off a disappointing season? Israel is all over that! I don’t think this move will be as bad as Froome’s (so far) but I don’t see how this can pay off for the Israeli team in the long-term.
Vincenzo Nibali (Trek-Segafredo > Astana Qazaqstan)
In sporting terms this transfer doesn’t affect much. Nibali is in the backend of his career so will not be fighting for much on the road. He is a very strong name though, which will be beneficial for the rebranding that Astana is going through.The effectiveness of this move depends, in my view, on the money involved and whether or not it prevented the team from acquiring riders that might actually win races. If it didn’t, it’s an excellent boost having a rider with Nibali’s name and experience.
Elia Viviani (Cofidis > Ineos)
I feel pretty good about this move. For Cofidis. Viviani’s tenure with the French team cost a lot of money for not much output. For Ineos, I understand the move from the perspective of keeping Filippo Ganna happy. To be fair, Viviani is more than good enough to win a few minor races for the British team, which might be all they’re interested in. Cofidis replaced Viviani with B&B Hotels’ Bryan Coquard which is a much better fit for them, in my opinion.
These were my opinions on the most important cycling transfers 2022 made so far. Do you agree? Which rider do you think will make his team manager look like a genius by the end of 2022? And which investment do you think will have the sponsors asking negative questions?