In an article published by L’Equipe on Wednesday about the relatively quiet transfer market among the world’s top riders this year, riders’ agent Joona Laukka says that it’s due to today’s UCI WorldTour teams being “more and more structured” and that team leaders are enjoying increased salaries.
While the majority of the WorldTour teams play it safe – and L’Equipe points out that Denmark’s Michael Valgren is the only rider inside the top 20 of the UCI ranking making a move, transferring from Astana to Dimension Data for next year – a number of French Pro Continental teams, on the other hand, have made big-name signings in preparation for the sweeping changes to come in 2020 in the guise of the UCI reforms.
The big exception among WorldTour teams is BMC Racing, who, with their new main sponsor, become CCC Team next season, and lost a number of riders during the time of the team’s uncertain future, but have now secured a number of new riders to support team leader Greg Van Avermaet.
The smaller French teams, meanwhile, says Laukka, have been actively trying to bring in big-name riders – such as sprinter André Greipel with his move to Fortuneo-Samsic for next year, and Tour of Flanders winner Niki Terpstra, who leaves Quick-Step Floors to join Direct Energie in 2019 – in readiness for the changes that will be introduced by the UCI for 2020.
Up for tender in the summer of 2019 will be the 18 WorldTour places for 2020, which the UCI will re-assign to teams based on ethical, administrative, financial, organisational and sporting criteria.
That latter criterion will ostensibly mean that teams need some big, winning names on their roster to qualify for WorldTour status, and the popularity of those riders within their ranks will be even more important for the non-WorldTour teams that won’t earn an automatic place for the Tour de France, for example, and will have to fight over the remaining wildcard places.
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