Blazin' Saddles

Transfer merry-go-round

Vincenzo Nibali

It's that time of the season as the races wind up and the focus shifts to who will be riding where next year. With that in mind, Saddles took a look at the main transfers on the World Tour and main Pro Continental ranks to bring you this handy recruitment round-up. Feel free to discuss the moves in the comments section below...

AG2R-LA MONDIALE

In: Steve Chainel and Yauheni Hutarovich (FDJ), Davide Appollonio (SKY), Carlos Betancur (ASA), Domenico Pozzovivo (COG), Samuel Dumoulin (COF)

Out: Nicolas Roche (STB), Martin Elmiger, Kristof Goddaert and Sebastien Hinault (IAM)

There's a bit of a revolution at the French team as they bid to emulate the success of rivals Europcar and FDJ-BigMat. Hutarovich and Appollonio offer options in the sprints and Dumoulin is a solid escape artist. But it's the arrivals of Betancur and piano-playing Pozzovivo that will be music to the ears of most fans: Pozzovivo, a proven stage winner, will offer a bigger chance of success than Roche, who was going stale at Ag2R. Meanwhile, Colombian youngster Betancur is a Grade-A talent.

BMC

In: Daniel Oss and Dominik Nerz (LIQ), Sebastian Lander (GLM)

Out: George Hincapie (Retired), Johann Tschopp (IAM)

Bizarrely, BMC have not yet signed a former world champion this close-season — but they will have the born-again Philippe Gilbert in the rainbow stripes in 2013. Oss and Nerz will add options to an already strong team for whom a fit-again Thor Hushovd would effectively be a new signing.

EUSKALTEL-EUSKADI

In: Garikoitz Bravo (CJR)

Out: Amets Txurruka and Ivan Velasco (Released)

A sea of change is on the cards at Euskaltel, who look set to change their recruitment policy to open doors to foreign, non-Basque riders. Popular domestiques Txurukka and Velasco have been shown the door due to their lack of WorldTour points: the system clearly penalises those riders who work hard for others. It doesn't help that Txurukka suffered four broken collarbones since his only win for the Orange Army, back in the 2009 Tour.

FDJ-BIGMAT

In: Murilo Fischer (GRS), Alexandre Geniez (ARG), Laurent Mangel (SAU), Laurent Pichon (BSC), Johan Le Bon (BRS)

Out: Steve Chainel (ALM), Yauheni Hutarovich (ALM), Remi Pauriol (SAU), Gabriel Rasch (SKY)

Not much to write home about here, with Brazilian sprinter Fischer a direct swap for the outgoing Hutarovich, in that he will probably win just as infrequently.

GARMIN-SHARP

In: Rohan Dennis (JAY), Steele von Hoff (CFS), Nick Nuyens (STB)

Out: Murillo Fischer (FDJ), Christophe Le Mevel (COF), Heinrich Haussler (IAM)

Haussler's departure comes as no surprise after another testing season for the Australian. Antipodean tyros Dennis and von Hoff have potential, while veteran Nuyens will add options for the classics — provided he's fit. Jonathan Vaughters is clearly more keen on consolidation than expansion — much like his facial hair nowadays.

KATUSHA

Out: Oscar Freire (Retired), Alexandr Kolobnev (STB)

The priority for the Russian Global Cycling Project is for Joaquim Rodriguez to renew. Without the Spanish number one-ranker rider of the year they would really be in trouble... There's a limit to how much a borscht-fed Denis Menchov can carry a team now he's clearly past his peak.

LAMPRE-MERIDA

In: Miguel Ubeto, Roberto Ferrari and Jose Serpa (AND), Elia Favilli (FAR),

Out: Leonardo Bertagnolli (Retired), Grega Bole (VCD), Danilo Hondo (RSN)

Despite the name change, there's worryingly little adjustment going on at Lampre — one of this season's most disappointing teams. With Alessandro Petacchi no longer bringing home the bacon, Ferrari will be called upon to build on his maiden Giro win, while goatee-sporting Colombian climber Serpa can hardly fail to fare better than Damiano Cunego on the cols.

CANNONDALE PRO CYCLING

In: Cameron Wurf (CSS), Alessandro de Marchi (AND)

Out: Daniel Oss and Dominik Nerz (BMC), Vincenzo Nibali, Valerio Agnoli and Alessandro Vanotti (AST), Eros Capecchi and Sylwester Szmyd (MOV), Timothy Duggan (SPI)

It's all change for the team formally known as Liquigas as GC contender Vincenzo Nibali leads a mass exodus that leaves behind a rather threadbare squad. Thanksfully, Peter Sagan and Moreno Moser remain — although it's hard to see Ivan Basso putting up much of a fight on GC.

LOTTO BELISOL

With zero ins or outs so far, there's no hokey cokey going on at Lotto this winter. Not that this comes as a huge surprise: why shake it all about when you have something as successful as the Andre Greipel train? Although Jurgen van den Broeck could do with some more bodies if he wants to put up a proper fight in the GTs.

MOVISTAR

In: Eros Capecchi and Swlwester Szmyd (LIQ)

Out: Vasil Kiryienka and David Lopez (SKY), Ignatas Konovalovas (MTN), Marzio Bruseghin (SBT), Branislau Samoilau (AST)

Szmyd and Capecchi will relish the challenge after a largely fruitless campaign of setting things up for Messrs Basso and Nibali, only to see both riders fail to deliver a knock-out blow. Kiryienka and Lopez will be missed, but Movistar remain a solid outfit with both GC and stage-win credentials.

OMEGA PHARMA-QUICKSTEP

In: Pieter Serry (TSV), Gianluca Brambilla (COG)

Out: Dario Cataldo (SKY), Francesco Chicchi (FAR), Gerald Ciolek (MTN)

Of course, the only rider OPQS really need is Mark Cavendish — and that is expected to be announced soon. With Cavendish, the Belgian team will be able to show their muscle on the Grand Tours as well as dominate the classics through the likes of Boonen and Chavanel. Despite his win in the Giro, Cataldo was becoming a bit of a passenger so the Italian will not be missed - plus in Brambilla they have a like-for-like replacement.

ORICA-GREENEDGE

In: Michael Matthews (RAB)

Out: Matthew Wilson (Retired), Jack Bobridge (RAB)

The Australian team clearly want to consolidate their strong opening season with stability rather than wholesale change. Matthews is a prospect, but Haussler would have been nice.

ASTANA

In: Vincenzo Nibali, Valerio Agnoli and Alessandro Vanotti (LIQ), Jakob Fuglsang (RNT), Andrea Guardini (FAR), Branislau Samoilau (MOV)

Out: Robert Kiserlovski (RNT), Roman Kreuziger (STB), Alexandre Vinokourov (Retired)

Flashing the cash like a Premier League footballer in a glitzy London nightclub, Astana are coping with Vino's second retirement by bringing in two GC contenders in Nibali and Fuglsang. Guardini will give the team more sprinting options after a tepid campaign for Borut Bozic, while Kreuziger leaves after two largely forgettable years. Can the Czech's former team-mate Nibali fare any better trading green for the baby blue and gold of Kazakhstan?

RABOBANK

In: Lars Petter Nordhaug (SKY), Robert Wagner (RNT), David Tanner (STB), Jack Bobridge (OGE)

Out: Michael Matthews (OGE), Matti Breschel (STB), Grischa Niermann (Retiring)

Nordhaug and Bobridge are exciting additions while Wagner is composed, if a little unspectacular. Losing Matthews is a blow — but how many misfiring Aussies can a team have (surely Mark Renshaw is enough). There will be lingering hopes of snaring Cavendish — although this looks unlikely.

RADIOSHACK-NISSAN

In: Robert Kiserlovski (AST), Stijn Devolder (VCN), Danilo Hondo (LAM)

Out: Jakob Fuglsang (AST), Robert Wagner (RAB), Daniele Bennati and Oliver Zaugg (SBT)

It's hard to see the turmoil abating at RadioShack, for whom the re-signing of a 41-year-old German represents the pinnacle of their powers. Despite his desire to leave, Fabian Cancellara is tied down too — but the loss of Fuglsang waves goodbye to any ostensible GC hope in Johan Bruyneel's blunted armoury. Oh but wait, Andy Schleck returns next year — that will provide a much-needed tonic. Hopefully.

TEAM SKY

In: Dario Cataldo (OPQ), Vasil Kiryienka and David Lopez (MOV), Gabriel Rasch (FDJ), Joe Dombrowski and Ian Boswell (BLV), Jonathan Tiernan-Locke (END)

Out: Davide Appollonio (ALM), Lars Petter Nordhaug (RAB), Juan Antonio Flecha (VCN), Thomas Lofkvist (IAM), Jeremy Hunt and Michael Barry (Retired)

A real mixed bag for Sky, who have (rashly?) gone for an unheralded veteran in Rasch and gambled on two American youngsters (who nevertheless show promise). Movistar pair Kiryienka and Lopez add steel, Cataldo could yet become the GC rider he once promised to be (a stint in Tenerife should help) while Tiernan-Locke is an exciting home-grown talent who will either be developed astutely or find himself stymied by the bigger cheeses around him. It would be a crying shame if JTL's merely being brought in to perform well in the Tour of Britain.

SAXO BANK-TINKOFF BANK

In: Nicolas Roche (ALM), Daniele Bennati (RNT), Matti Breschel (RAB), Roman Kreuziger (AST), Oliver Zaugg (STB), Jay McCarthy (JAY), Rory Sutherland (UHC), Alexandr Kolobnev (KAT), Marzo Bruseghim (MOV)

Out: Daniel Navarro (COF), David Tanner (RAB), Nick Nuyens (GRS)

Kreuziger has a chance to resurrect his career while Roche will be given a much-needed change and a fresh direction under the pupillage of Bjarne Riis and alongside Alberto Contador. These arrivals will make up for the loss of Navarro, while Breschel may re-find his form now back with his mentor. Bennati is an odd choice, however — although a short-term upgrade on JJ Haedo. Breseghin and Kolobnev will add depth (and UCI points).

VACANSOLEIL-DCM

In: Juan Antonio Flecha (SKY), Grega Bole (LAM), Jose Rujano (AND)

Out: Stijn Devolder (RNT), Stefan Denifl (IAM), Gustav Erik Larsson, Matteo Carrara, Jacek Morajko, Martin Mortensen, Marcello Pavarin (all released)

The Dutch outfit has shown the door to a raft of riders who have been released and are looking for employment. You get the impression that Johnny Hoogerland, who had a woeful season, would have been in the same boat were he not so marketable and popular with the fans. (Sometimes it helps being thrown into a barbed wire fence.) Flecha will add options for the classics, Rujano will sparkle on one climb in three, Bole will probably do very little (a direct replacement for Devolder, then).

ARGOS SHIMANO

Out: Adrie Visser (DBO), Alexander Geniez (FDJ)

Why change a winning formula? So dominant in the Vuelta, Argos will hope that a fit-again Marcel Kittel will follow John Degenkolb's lead in the Grand Tours. With such camaraderie and a solid train, things are exciting for Argos — who could well find themselves promoted to World Tour status.

IAM CYCLING

In: Matthias Brandle (NET), Domenik Klemme (ARG), Matteo Pelucchi (ERP), Marco Bandiera (OPQ), Stefan Denifl and Gustav Erik Larsson (VCN), Aleksejs Saramotins (COF), Alexandr Pliuschin (LEO), Heinrich Haussler (GRS), Thomas Lofkvist (SKY), Johan Tschopp (BMC)

The road will be long for the new Pro Continental hopefuls, who will have to gain wildcard entry into the major events. The Grand Tours are unlikely, but Suisse and Romandie will probably open their arms. Haussler is the marquee signing, which says a lot. Sky or GreenEdge IAM is not.

EUROPCAR

Out: Matteo Pelucchi (IAM)

Little change at the Pro Continental minnows who constantly punch above their weight. Given their performances in the Tour, Thomas Voeckler's team will hope for an invite to the Giro or Vuelta this year — but the politics of cycling will make that hard. So far, only Pelucchi is out, but he won't be missed. Holding on to Voeckler and Pierre Rolland is key.

SOJASUN

In: Julien El Fares (SAN), Remi Pauriol (FDJ)

Out: Jerome Coppel (COF), Laurent Mangel (FDJ)

The all-French team struggled this year and will continue to do so if they fail to attract big names. Given their recent performances, it's hard to build a case for them to receive an invite to the major races — even the Tour (especially with Coppel, their best rider, flying the nest).

COFIDIS

In: Jerome Coppel (SAU), Christophe Le Mevel (GRS), Daniel Navarro (SBT), Romain Lemarchand (AGR)

Out: Samuel Dumoulin (AGR), Aleksejs Saramotins (IAM), Davide Moncoutie (retired)

Manager Yvon Sanquer is shuffling the pack at Cofidis after a year that yielded just four wins (two of which came from the sacked Remi di Gregorio and the departing Dumoulin). In comes eternal French hope Coppel, veteran Le Mevel and, intriguingly, Navarro. The Spanish super domestique (who knows Sanquer well from his Astana days) has been one of Alberto Contador's right-hand men for the past five years but he now has a chance to make a name for himself. Alongside Coppel and Rein Taaramae, Navarro will form a Grand Tour trident that the Cofidis management will hope turns things round for the faltering outfit. With Vuelta specialist Moncoutie now gone, Codifis will bank on Navarro's presence to ensure an invitation. The Giro will certainly turn them down, while this is surely something of a last-chance saloon for the Tour.