As August draws to a close and cycling’s transfer window trundles on, the rider market dries up as teams finalise signings and fill up their 2023 rosters.
Big names such as Dylan van Baarle, Richard Carapaz, Dylan Teuns, and Tim Merlier all have their future destinations sorted, but perhaps the biggest name on the market – Mark Cavendish – has yet to finalise his next destination.
The British champion is set to leave QuickStep-AlphaVinyl at the end of the year and he has so far been linked with several teams, having reportedly expressed interest with Ineos Grenadiers and EF Education-EasyPost, among others.
The strongest link, though, has been French ProTeam B&B Hotels-KTM, which is set to undergo a rebranding with the city of Paris for next year. Team boss Jérôme Pineau has said that the chances of the Manxman joining the team are currently “50-50”.
“Yes, we are discussing,” Pineau told Le Télégramme (opens in new tab) on Monday. “He is not one of the five who have already signed. He is someone I like very much. I would love to have him come to us but it’s quite complicated.
“Cavendish is a cycling legend. There is the sport but not only that… It’s like negotiating for a footballer. He wants to come to us, but he doesn’t want to retire here either.
“If he comes, it will be to win. We want to win together. Today, for his recruitment, let’s say it’s 50-50.”
Currently lying some way off the top 18 teams in the UCI world rankings, the B&B squad isn’t set to move up to the WorldTour next season, but still has big ambitions for 2023 with new sponsors (French supermarket Carrefour has been rumoured) and a bigger budget.
Cavendish would be a marquee signature for the team and would be searching for a record-breaking 35th stage win at next year’s Tour de France if he were to join. The 37-year-old, who switched agents earlier in the year, is looking for a deal that would guarantee him a spot at the Tour.
As well as Cavendish, the team is looking to upgrade a roster that has just four wins in 2022 and few notable names aside from Pierre Rolland, Franck Bonnamour, emerging sprinter Luca Mozzato, and 21-year-old Bretagne Classic runner-up Axel Laurance.
The signing of DSM sprinter Cees Bol is all but confirmed, while BikeExchange-Jayco climber Nick Schultz – who finished seconds at Megève at this year’s Tour – is also likely to move. Pineau said that his team has so far signed up five riders from the WorldTour for 2023, though none of them have been confirmed yet.
“With the rider extensions that will be announced soon, we will have 26 riders in 2023. And if we have opportunities, we may go up to 28,” Pineau noted.
“At the moment, I have signed five riders from the WorldTour. We have strengthened in all areas. I haven’t signed a leader for the simple reason that there aren’t any on the market. There could be one or two more recruits. We are looking.
“Some of the names that were leaked were completely wrong. On the other hand, yes, I almost signed Michael Matthews. In the end he preferred to stay with his current team.”