Key Takeaways: 2023’s Intriguing Free-Agent Market



Key Takeaways from Intriguing Free-Agent Market: Welcome. We’ve now formally entered the 2023 professional biking season, Costa Blanca staff camps are underway, kits/bikes are being handed out and the rosters of almost each staff must be all however finalized contemplating the WorldTour highway season kicks off in per week in Adelaide, Australia with the Tour Down Below.


– This text is an excerpt from the Past the Peloton e-newsletter. Enroll right here for full entry. –

The Cavendish entrance has been quiet

Nevertheless, at the same time as we’ve already entered the brand new season, a major variety of groups nonetheless have just a few free roster spots whereas just a few high-profile riders are nonetheless available on the market (particularly if we function below the idea that the rumored Mark Cavendish/Astana deal isn’t a sure-thing). And, with each staff getting into a contemporary three-year promotion/relegation battle when the UCI level counters zeroed out at midnight on January 1st, it might be good for groups with weaker-than-average rosters to take an in depth look over the checklist of at the moment unemployed riders who had respectable point-generating campaigns within the 2022 season. In any case, Domenico Pozzovivo and Simon Clarke, each of whom put up important outcomes for his or her respective groups in 2022 (together with successful a Tour de France stage within the case of Clarke) had been extremely late free-agent additions final season.

In an try and determine which groups are even eligible to make a particularly late (or early, relying in your perspective), let’s check out the roster area remaining on the rosters of groups who completed within the prime 22 of the UCI level rankings in the course of the 2022 season.

Bahrain Victorious has room for GC rider

Roster Spots Remaining on Prime 22 UCI Groups


With 22 complete roster spots remaining, it might sound apparent at first look that almost all of riders listed above shall be picked up within the coming weeks to race in 2023.

Nevertheless, one main takeaway from this season’s free agent class is that whereas the highest of the checklist is extraordinarily talent-packed, after the highest 4, the standard drops off extremely quick (contemplating that is the very fact even after the UCI reduce the utmost staff dimension by a rider in comparison with final season and B&B Lodges went below reveals how comparatively uncommon riders who can really generate leads to top-level WorldTour races are).

AG2R Citroën has two areas on their roster

Prime 30 At the moment Unsigned Riders


When glancing on the checklist of at the moment unsigned riders for 2023, there are a handful of notable names, however, a minimum of by way of 2022 outcomes, there aren’t an awesome variety of fascinating riders on right here for groups trying to find on the spot 2023 outcomes. In actual fact, after Cavendish in 4th place, Pierre Barbier, who rode anonymously for B&B Lodges, is the subsequent highest-producing rider (by way of 2022) at the moment available on the market.

cro22 st2
Pierre Barbier most likely dropping all the way down to CIC U Nantes Atlantique staff

Prime 5 Unsigned Riders At the moment Obtainable Based mostly on 2022 UCI Level Totals
1) Miguel Ángel López (28): 898pts*
2) Nairo Quintana (32): 880pts
3) Domenico Pozzovivo (40): 714pts
4) Mark Cavendish (37): 705pts
5) Pierre Barbier (25)-364pts

Honorable point out: Alejandro Valverde (42): 1,996pts

*technically signed with a third-division Colombian staff (Medellín EPM) over the weekend.

López now with Medellin

This combination of threadbare rider stock and a lot of remaining roster spots, significantly on groups who will almost definitely be within the promotion/relegation battle, ought to inform us that, exterior the highest 4 out there riders, groups will probably look to advert untested youth prospects, like Trinity Racing’s Luke Lamperti and Cameron Mason, because the season goes on slightly than revisit unsigned veterans.

  • This ‘youth over expertise’ playbook will probably turn into increasingly more frequent as groups see younger prospects like Tadej Pogačar, Remco Evenepoel, and Juan Ayuso dominate WorldTour races straight from the youth circuit.

giro22st4 m a lopez
López climbed of within the Giro’22

5 Key Takeaways:
1) It’s stunning Miguel Ángel López continues to be with out a staff within the prime two divisions for 2023

  • The Colombian, who continues to be technically within the prime of his profession and has two grand tour podium finishes on his resume, ought to have been the largest free agent out there by a big margin and had a number of groups bidding to get his signature.
  • However, as a substitute, he at the moment finds himself with none affords from main groups and is now slated to journey an amateur-level schedule for the 2023 season after signing with the Colombian continental-level staff Medellín EPM, probably resulting from extremely damaging doping associations.
  • This improvement, whereas encouraging, continues to be stunning, particularly contemplating riders going through doping allegations haven’t had specific hassle discovering groups prepared to get them contracts within the latest previous.
    • This highlights each the severity of the allegations López is going through and simply how shortly the tradition round doping allegations has modified within the sport (I wouldn’t be shocked if this tradition change is because of an unofficial decree from the UCI regarding the standing of a staff’s WorldTour license if they’re discovered to be complicit of their riders’ use of doping).
    • It additionally probably speaks to how a lot his choice to depart the 2021 Vuelta whereas sitting within the prime 10 total on the penultimate stage resulting from a disagreement together with his Movistar staff has depressed the marketplace for his companies.
    • Having mentioned that, I discover it tough to imagine López will stay unsigned by a significant staff from the highest two divisions earlier than this season’s Tour de France. There are just too many groups chasing too few main outcomes for somebody to finally cave and take a threat on such a gifted rider.

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The place will Quintana go?

2) Nairo Quintana can even provide struggling groups a tempting mid-season bailout choice

  • Similar to López, Quintana, who continues to be pretty younger at 32 years outdated and coming off a season that was ok to web sixth place total on the Tour de France and earn his former Arkéa staff promotion to the top-flight, is shockingly nonetheless with out a 2023 staff as we head into the brand new season.
  • However, additionally similar to his countryman López, Quintana’s constructive take a look at for Tramadol on the 2022 Tour de France (the presence of a painkiller that’s banned in-race however not throughout coaching/residence time signifies a much more critical doping offense) has appeared to considerably cool the market and spooked any groups who would contemplate signing him.
  • Exterior of the doping questions, Quintana affords potential groups much less and fewer relative to his GC friends with each passing season resulting from his lack of time trialing, incapacity to constantly outclimb the game’s main GC stars, and obvious lack of need to chase total titles at shoulder grand excursions (Giro & Vuelta) in lieu of concentrating on the Tour de France.
    • However, even contemplating all of this, struggling groups may view Quintana as a simple technique to seize a grand tour stage win.

Cavendish has, supposedly, signed for Astana, however no presentation… but

3) Mark Cavendish was displaying indicators of decline in 2022 however brings outsized constructive worth to the deeply troubled Astana staff

  • The 37-year-old sprinter has been the undisputed catch of this low season and, assuming the rumors are true, seems all however set to journey for Astana in 2023.
  • Nevertheless, once we take a look at the precise manufacturing numbers relative to the opposite free brokers, Cavendish had a surprisingly modest 2022. This could possibly be an aberration, however, at his age (shall be 38 years outdated on the 2023 Tour), we might be silly to disregard even the slightest signal of decline.
  • Even with a possible efficiency drop-off in 2023, this marriage shall be a win for each the staff, who wants all of the wins/UCI factors it might get and doesn’t have many others at this level, and Cavendish, who will get a pleasant seven-figure contract and a sure-fire begin on the 2023 Tour de France, which, in flip, will give him a chance to interrupt Eddy Merckx’s all-time stage win document.

Pozzovivo nonetheless price signing

4) Domenico Pozzovivo could possibly be the short-term reply to a struggling staff’s issues

  • The 40-year-old Italian wasn’t retained by his Intermarché staff following the 2022 season, which is comprehensible contemplating the staff’s shifting focus to its rising younger star in Biniam Girmay and Pozzovivo’s restricted skillset.
    However, even at his age, he racked up spectacular outcomes in the course of the 2022 season (prime 10 total on the Giro d’Italia) and will current low-cost outcomes (and factors) for struggling groups with roster spots remaining (i.e. Bahrain).
    • Assuming he hasn’t quietly retired, I’m shocked Pozzovivo hasn’t been picked up but and wouldn’t rule out a late signing, similar to his last-second transfer to Intermarché in February of 2022.

Valverde continues to be wanting match

5) It isn’t inconceivable that we see Alejandro Valverde return to racing in 2023

  • Whereas the 42-year-old Spanish legend formally retired to a lot fanfare on the finish of 2022, as we are able to see above, he had a much better season than any of the out there free brokers and seems to be staying in higher form than nearly all of the Movistar roster, regardless of shifting right into a managerial function with the staff over the low season.
  • Once we contemplate this health, the relative weak spot of the Movistar roster, and the staff’s failure to exchange Valverde, it isn’t exterior the realm of risk to suppose that staff boss Eusebio Unzué would ask Valverde to transition from the staff automotive to a job throughout the racing staff mid-season.
    • Technically, the staff wouldn’t be allowed to do that resulting from already having 30 riders, but when the state of affairs turned determined sufficient, they’d probably contemplate sending a lesser rider residence for the season with a pleasant test to unlock area for Valverde.

Can Mas be a staff chief? or…

# Spencer Martin is the creator of the cycling-analysis e-newsletter Past the Peloton that breaks down the nuances of every race and solutions huge image questions surrounding staff and rider efficiency. Enroll now to get full entry to all of the out there content material and race breakdowns. #

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