Sign up for our newsletter


The 10 transfers that will take a while to get used to in 2021

Joe Robinson
4 Jan 2021

From Chris Froome leaving Ineos for Israel to Marianne Vos at the newly-formed Jumbo-Visma, transfers for the 2021 season

The first day of the year is a special one in the world of professional cycling. It’s the day all fans wait with bated breath to see all those riders who have changed team reveal themselves in their new kits.

It’s a monumental occasion every year but this year, in particular, seemed to produce a real vintage as some of the peloton’s best known riders shifted team for the 2021 season.

Among those were some of the biggest names in the sport who have long become stalwarts of their teams after years of loyal service. Chris Froome, Romain Bardet, Annemiek van Vleuten, among those having a change of scenery. The worn cliche of ‘New Year, new me’ could never ring truer.

And we know how confusing it can be in those first few months. Adjusting the mind and the eyes to these riders on new bikes in different colours, so below have compiled the 10 transfers that will take the most getting used to in 2021.

Chris Froome - Israel Start-Up Nation

Let’s start with a shock to the eyes. Chris Froome no longer riding for Ineos Grenadiers/Team Ineos/Team Sky.

No Kask helmet, no Oakley sunglasses, no Pinarello bike. Instead, an HJC helmet, Scicon sunglasses, a Factor bike. If it wasn’t for the ungainly, spider-like frame draped over that bike I’d even be tempted to call this a deep fake conspiracy.

It really does feel like a fantasy. The transfer felt fictional for so long as the concept of Froome leaving ‘The Empire’ after 10 years and seven Grand Tour wins felt absurd.

But here we are, Froome in his new Israel Start-Up Nation colours looking forward to potentially the biggest season of his career. Can he return to the Froome of before that 2019 horror crash? Can he win another Grand Tour? Can he function away from the boundaries of Ineos?

Mark Cavendish - Deceuninck-QuickStep

Nature is healing, Mark Cavendish is back in the blues of Deceuninck-QuickStep.

It almost didn’t happen. The Manx sprinter made no secret of his desire to return to the Belgian team yet manager Patrick Lefevere was fairly forthright in telling us it simply would not work with his tight budget. With his contract up at Bahrain-McLaren, it looked as if retirement would be Cavendish's only option.

But after a phone call here and an email there, Cavendish proved his weight in the cycling world, negotiating for a mystery sponsor to come on-board to fit his wage bill.

For Cavendish, it offers a lifeline, a chance for a career Indian Summer. For Lefevere, this a win-win situation. A former World Champion, 30-time Tour de France stage winner, the greatest sprinter of all time, riding on your team for free. The exposure he offers for sponsors alone is enough. But imagine if he rolls back the clock and takes one final, big win.

Adam Yates - Ineos Grenadiers

Another one that will have you adjusting your screen. The concept of the Yates twins riding on opposing teams seemed as unthinkable as one of the Geordie presenting miracles Ant or Dec going solo.

PJ would never leave Duncan but it seems Adam is happy to leave Simon, especially if its for the Ineos Grenadiers, the team with the biggest budget in professional cycling. He joins as part of a bumper quintet on signings alongside Richie Porte, Laurens De Plus, Dani Martinez and Tom Pidcock, a real flexing of muscles from Dave Brailsford.

In theory, the Yates move makes perfect sense. The ageing of Geraint Thomas and departure of Froome leave Ineos with just the one British Grand Tour specialist, Tao Geoghegan Hart. Adam has the ability to fill the Froome/Thomas void and at Ineos will have the resources and teammates to help unlock any Grand Tour-conquering potential.

But in reality, there’s the fact that Grand Tour leadership will be a duty Yates will have to fight Thomas, Geoghegan Hart, Egan Bernal, Richard Carapaz and Pavel Sivakov for – some register of riders.

At least this move crushes all those salacious rumours that the Yates twins are not twins, in fact prototyped clones that are intermittently swapped during races in an attempt to win bike races.

Romain Bardet - Team DSM

It’s rare to see a top French rider plying his trade beyond a French team – Julian Alaphilippe being the obvious exception to this rule. It is even rarer that a leading French rider leaves the warm nest of a home team during his career. For some reason, homesickness is something that seems to plague the Gallic rider.

That’s what makes Romain Bardet’s decision to leave AG2R after nine years of service so fascinating. It never seemed likely that Bardet would ride any colours that were not brown or light blue. Bardet was AG2R and AG2R was Bardet for so long.

But with a new sponsor in Citreon and apparent change of lane towards the Spring Classics – indicated with the signing of Greg van Avermaet – Bardet finds himself flocking into a new, Dutch nest – Team DSM.

DSM, you ask? You will know them by their former guise, Team Sunweb. The travel agent had a tough 2020 and therefore was replaced as title sponsor by this Dutch company that is brand new to cycling.

As for what DSM is, we are not sure. It calls itself a ‘global, purpose-led, science-based company active in Nutrition, Health and Sustainable Living’. Yep, not a clue either.

Marianne Vos - Jumbo-Visma

The adjustment for the eyes in regards to women’s cycling legend Marianne Vos will not be the fact that she is in new colours for 2021 so much as what those colours will bee.

As a pledge for parity in the sport of cycling, Dutch men’s superteam Jumbo-Visma is now part of the women’s peloton. The behemoth behind Wout van Aert, Primoz Roglic and Tom Dumoulin signed 33-year-old Vos to spearhead this latest project and in the hope of becoming a dominating force in women’s cycling much as they have in the men’s game.

All they need to do now is find a former ski jumper-turned-pro cyclist...

Annemiek van Vleuten - Movistar

Before Christmas, former World Champion Annemiek van Vleuten revealed that she had turned down a bumper deal at cash-rich, superstar-lined Trek-Segafredo, instead opting to sign for Movistar. Why? She wants to keep women’s cycling exciting.

A touch of Dutch arrogance or a perfectly valid rationale that will benefit the women’s peloton? A healthy mix of both, I would say.

Van Vleuten is right in her assessment of the Trek deal. Lining up alongside Lizzie Deignan, Elisa Longo Borghini, Ellen Van Dijk and Amalie Diedreksen would saturate the talent and lead to a similar situation as to when Boels-Dolmans routinely dominated women’s cycling a few years ago.

The signing of Van Vleuten should also help in kickstarting Movistar’s women’s team, too. Since joining the peloton in 2018, they have been solid yet unable to secure that big victory. The 28-year-old Dutchwoman should rectify that in no time.

Miguel Angel Lopez - Movistar

The best thing about this transfer is the fact that Superman Lopez openly criticised Movistar, quite harshly, at the 2019 Vuelta a Espana. Back then, he called his now-teammates ‘opportunistic idiots’ after attacking race leader Primoz Roglic after he had crashed.

I think we can all safely assume that the first meet of Lopez with the likes of Alejandro Valverde, Marc Soler and team boss Eusebio Unzue may be an awkward one. And once the butter knife has cut the tension, there’s the never-simple question of what Lopez’s purpose will be in the team.

Of course, he will be leading the team at Grand Tours but with Movistar, things are never that simple. The chances are he will be sharing responsibilities with the likes of Valverde, Soler and Enric Mas and as history shows, this can quickly lead to disaster.

Don’t believe us? Then ask Lopez’s compatriot and former Movistar man Nairo Quintana.

Bob Jungels - AG2R Citreon

While Greg van Avermaet in AG2R Citreon livery feels natural, on his new teammate Bob Jungels, the Supreme-inspired jersey of the French team feels a little odd.

Firstly, it is purely mad that Jungels is no longer the road race champion of Luxembourg, I thought that was some sort of birth right? And secondly, while I know he started life at Leopard-Trek, I could never envisage Jungels away from Deceuninck-QuickStep and his best mate, Julian Alaphilippe. The two were inseparable at times and exemplary teammates for one another on many occasions.

Jungels’s move to AG2R should be a good thing, however, as he has much more to give than that Liege-Bastogne-Liege victory of a few years prior.

And a fun fact about Bob Jungels, he can recommend you some excellent restaurants to visit in Luxembourg City.

Ilnur Zakarin - Gazprom-Rusvelo

Has a transfer ever made more sense? When the CCC Team announced it was closing its doors last season, you could have put your mortgage on Illnur Zakarin finding a home at Gazprom-Rusvelo.

A Russian rider with Grand Tour stage victories but nowhere to call home in the WorldTour, Zakarin now has the opportunity to become the big duck in the small ProTeam pond among a bunch of teammate compatriots who all speak a common language, a barrier that did peg Zakarin in the past.

The only issue for the Russian rider could be invites because, as it stands, it does not look likely that Gazprom-Rusvelo will be on the start list for any of the three Grand Tours.

And while we are here, 10/10 on the new jersey from Gazprom. Chapeau!

Simon Geschke - Cofidis

Simon Geschke could wear a bin bag and he’d still look cool. Just look at that beard, people! It is so thick, full and luscious, you almost want to set up shop in it.

Luckily, the German does not have to wear bin bags. He has to wear Cofidis kit – which actually pretty decent – having landed with the French team for 2021 after the closure of CCC Team.

An old hack these days, the signing of Geschke is a canny one considering his ability to support big names around him with the desirable selflessness of the very best domestiques while also having the personal ability to nab good results when asked to.