The two big announcements were the singings of Odd Eiking and Gianni Moscon.
The Norwegian Eiking, who burst out last year in the Giro della Valle d'Aosta, was on the radar of FDJ earlier this off season when he went to a three day training camp held by the team that included testing. Fred Grappe, who is the team's performance director, has been high on Eiking as he noted his high lactate threshold as a strong key to developing as a puncheur rider.
FDJ followed through with their talent-crush and signed the Norwegian to a two year neo-pro deal through the end of 2017. Eiking, who rides for Team Joker, has blossomed as a very consistent rider this season including his win in the Norwegian U23 RR and 2nd in the Elite Men's race. Watch for him when he comes back to the Giro della Valle d'Aosta. He will be Norway's 8th current pro rider on the World Tour circuit, which is pretty damn good considering the size of the nation.
On the other end of the continent, Zalf-Euromobil's Gianni Moscon inked a long speculated deal with Team Sky for two seasons. The newly crowned Italian U23 champion will go to the team's training camp in Sestriere on July 10th-21st with non-Tour de France riders and according to one article, "two other young men, an Englishman and an American." He will stagiaire with the team this year and according to him in his interview with Gazzetta dello Sport, he will start with Milano-Torino and a few other races this year. Moscon, who is leading Italian amateurs with 7 wins this season, proved himself a versatile rider with a 2nd place in the Ronde van Vlaanderen U23 along with wins in Palio del Recioto and San Vendemiano. Other Moscon facts include that he plays the accordion, he has a diploma as a land surveyor and is pursuing a degree in Engineering Management.
Moscon is also advised by Maurizio Fondriest, who he has known since he was young. Of course Fondriest was coached by Francesco Conconi and had his own issues with doping through his career. Fondriest might be a nice guy but I wouldn't keep him as an advisor when you are going into a career where that association can have you skewered.
Watch for Moscon at the Tour de l'Avenir and U23 Worlds in Richmond.
While these guys inked their first contracts, a lot of stagiaires were announced by mainly French teams. For those that are new to this, stagiaires, or trainees, are basically riders that get a chance on a pro team and get some race days with the big boys. Many times this leads to a contract with said team but it isn't guaranteed. The stagiaire period starts on August 1st.
Madiot's squad has announced three stagiaires in Elie Gesbert, Marc Fournier and Fabien Doubey.
Gesbert runs on the lowly DN3 level with his Pays de Dinan team but has been under scholarship with the FDJ foundation. Gesbert fractured a collarbone this year but has been running fairly well. Gesbert was an double French junior champion in 2013 in the RR and TT and was probably the best French junior in his class.
Fournier (CC Nogent sur Oise) has had a damn good year with two wins in the French DN1 competition as well as one UCI win with a stage win in the Triptyque Monts et Chateaux. A bit inconsistent but a strong rouleur.
Doubey is the current French U23 cyclocross champion and won a stage in the Tour Nivernais Morvan.
The Vendée based team took three stagiaires with Romain Guyot, Taruia Krainer and Simon Sellier.
Romain Guyot is a homegrown Vendée U product that has three wins this year along with good rides in the Triptyque Monts et Chateaux (7th) and Fleche du Sud (12th).
For his 2nd year in a row, Tahiti's Taruia Krainer is with Europcar as a stagiaire. Krainer won Paris-Tours Espoirs 3 years ago and hasn't done much since.
Simon Sellier is someone that I cannot say I've heard much from. He was 12th in Liege-Bastogne-Liege U23 this year so seems like he could be good. Maybe.
Bretagne Seche Environment
The western France squad take their prize baby Franck Bonnamour, Valentin Madouas and Brazilian Caio Godoy.
Bretagne loves Franck Bonnamour. He is their star pupil as this is his 2nd year as a stagiaire with them in his first two U23 seasons. He will be on Bretagne Seche Environment, or another iteration, when he goes pro. He has won three races this year including one DN1 race and was 5th in the Ronde van Vlaanderen U23.
Madouas is just a first year U23 with BIC 2000 and was a standout junior last year but is still trying to find his feet in the U23 ranks.
Godoy is an interesting pick as he is a Brazilian but he trains at the UCI World Cycling Centre. Godoy,
Roubaix Lille Metropole
The northern France squad sign up Felix Pouilly and Leo Vincent.
Pouilly (CC Nogent sur Oise) suffered from an iliac artery problem in 2014 but has come back strong in 2015. He was the French junior champion in 2012 and this year, he finished 4th in the Paris-Roubaix U23.
Leo Vincent (CC Etupes) is the king of the final stage after wins on the last stages of the Ronde de l'Isard and the Tour des Pays de Savoie. Strong climber and I doubt he will stay here but Roubaix Lille Metrpole rides a diverse schedule so it should be good.
Team Marseille 13
The southern France squad go with Estonian Martin Laas and Yoan Verardo.
Laas runs for Team Immo Pro Roux and has won the Tour of Estonia. He likes those flat races.
Verardo rides for the French Basque team GSC Blagnac and has had a breakout year with three wins so far as well as 4th in the La Cote Picarde Nations Cup.
Outside of France...
While Loïc Vliegen is joining the team on a pro contract starting today, BMC Development riders Tom Bohli and Floris Gerts will be stagiaires starting on August 1st.
Bohli has 13 top 10 finishes in UCI races and while he isn't a sprinter, seems to have a nose for the line in a bunch sprint. With a bit more grooming, he will be a beast.
Gerts is another rider that is all over the top 10 and has a good solo move that has netted him two wins this year. He is getting closer in hillier races and is a good shot for a Tour de l'Avenir stage win later this year.
It was announced in about January or so but Jack Haig is joining the team as a stagiaire in 2015.
Haig has been quiet this year after a pretty brutal crash in the Tour de Bretagne that has kept him out for nearly 2 months. He even made a five hour drive to France from the AIS base in Italy to start the Rhone-Alpes Isere Tour so the team had enough riders but did a whole whopping 500 meters before pulling out and driving back to Italy. Read this Cycling Tips blog by Jack on his road to recovery.
The Russian team is making an...interesting move by signing Pan-Am U23 Champion Jhonathan Restrepo.
Restrepo hails from Medellin and left his family home at a young age to pursue cycling. He eventually ended up staying in the family home of staunch anti-doper Juan Pablo Villegas (Smartstop). Restrepo, who rides for Coldeportes-Claro, won the final stage of the Vuelta de la Juventud Colombia and finished a strong 3rd overall behind the likes of Ecuadorian Richie Carapaz and Aldemar Reyes. Restrepo went on to win the Pan-Am U23 RR in a small group sprint.
While his debut in Europe was horrible with a DNF in the U23 Peace Race, Restrepo will make his debut with Katusha in the Vuelta a Burgos.