In the lead up to the World Championships, the yearly transfer shuffle has been in full swing with riders departing, new teams popping up and some lovely doping reports. Let's crack on...
Asbjorn Kragh fired by Christina Watches
Asbjorn Kragh, who has been one of the only bright spots on the toxic Christina Watches team, announced that he was fired by the team effective immediately and that he would be riding under the support of the Danish Cycling Federation for the remainder of the year. Kragh's last race with the team was at the Volta a Portugal, which the team demanded that he ride. He lasted 6 stages (plus the prologue) before dropping out but he did produce two top 10 finishes for the team.
He rode the Tour de l'Avenir with the Danish National Team but without much of a reason, he was dropped from Christina Watches. This isn't a new thing with CWO because of their buffoon manager Claus Hembo having major issues managing and not letting his director Bo Hambuger direct without interference. They hire ex-dopers like Schumacher, deal with lazy uber-talents like Alexander Kamp and under race young riders. It is a complete shit show so it is a bit of a blessing in disguise for Kragh to get out of there.
Kragh, who has 19 top 10 finishes this year, will not be hurting for a new contract next year.
Lukasz Wisniowski moves from Etixx to Etixx
Pole Lukasz Wisniowski got the call up from the development team Etixx to the World Tour team Etixx for 2015. Well, Etixx-OPQS but I couldn't help to indulge in the wordplay. Wisniowski has been one of the more consistent riders for the Etixx team over the last couple of years and he will be joining his Polish compatriots Michal Kwaitkowski and Michal Golas.
Wisniowski had a torrid spring where he won the Kattekoers, a stage in the Tour de Normandie and the Circuit des Ardennes within the span of a month. He cooled off a bit as his schedule was a bit lighter over the summer due to his non-U23 status (aged out last year) but he still did well in one day races including a 2nd place in the Top Competitie finale in Templeuve.
Wisniowski should fit in with the classics approach at Etixx-OPQS and with a strong all-around riding style, should be able to adapt in multiple races.
Other transfer news includes...
-Rabobank Development is doing a huge personnel flip with many of their most seasoned riders departing for the pro ranks or other teams. Mike Teunissen and Bert-Jan Lindeman will be going to Lotto-BrandLoyalty (ex-Belkin) while Andre Looij and Ivar Slik will be going to Roompot. Ricardo van Dongen will be moving to SEG Racing while Timo Roosen, Etienne van Empel and Floris Gerts have been confirmed as moving to other pastures.
While Maarten van Trijp will be staying on, there is a huge influx of young riders. Mitchell Cornelisse, Sjoerd Bax, Joris Nieuwenhuis, Siebren Wouters, Peter Lenderink, Antwan Tolhoek, Jan Maas and Hartthijs De Vries have been confirmed moving to Arthur van Dongen's "ploeg" for 2015. All of them except Tolhoek are juniors...7 of them. I mean, they have some pretty good talent but nearly half of the team will be first years. We shall see how they hold up.
-Norwegian junior Kristoffer Halvorsen has signed with Team Joker.
-Team Bissell is undergoing a bit of an overhaul for 2015. Team manager Axel Merckx is going to be securing a new title sponsor for the team and to try and "create a long-term sustainable brand" to create more of a legacy with alumni and drive merchandise/marketing opportunities.
DS Omer Kem is departing the team for a GM role at Smartstop but for the most part, the core of the team stays the same. Tanner Putt and Ryan Eastman age out while Ruben Zepuntke is looking at World Tour/Pro Conti offers. Those confirmed as staying are James Oram, Geoffrey Curran, Dan Eaton, Chris Putt, Greg Daniel, Keegan Swirbul and Tao Geoghegan Hart. Riders confirmed for next year are Justin Oien, who rode for the U23 National Team this year, and junior Will Barta.
Other riders not confirmed on this year's roster are Clement Chevrier, who will most likely be moving to Trek, Nicolai Brochner, Alex Darville, Logan Owen and Nathan Van Hooydonck. I know Darville has been focusing on the track so he might be deviating from the road route and Owen has cyclocross but not sure of the others.
The team also mentioned having a bigger focus on European racing, which might be the best call because even when guys had American schedules, a lot of them would take a timeout to ride with the national teams. That cuts out the middleman for many races and will offer more opportunities abroad.
Also, the article I linked was by Pat Malach,If you could, please read everything that guy writes. He is one of the best reporters on the USA scene and does quality work. Or you can follow him on twitter @ORCyclingAction. Do it.
-Tour de l'Avenir winner Miguel Angel Lopez is signing with Astana. I just...don't think this is a good idea. I know I'm being an armchair pundit here but I have a whole post about this brewing and it just has too much potential to backfire.
New Italian Continental Team for 2015: Velo Club Abruzzo
A new Italian project is getting off the ground for 2015 and is making some interesting signings. Run by Carmine Santoleri and Gabriele Marchesani, the team will be based in Abruzzo (as the name suggests) and has already made some interesting signings for the new year. They brought on Abruzzo's best talent in Marco D'Urbano, who won 3 races in 2014 and was 3rd in the Italian Elite w/o Contract Championship. The team also signed Daniele Cavasin, currently tied with the most elite wins in Italy with 9, former junior World track champion Jordan Parra and Francesco Pedante.
Anything else? Well it will need to wait until a bit later.