Richie Porte: Team Sky to BMC Racing
One of the earliest transfers this season, the Richie Porte move was always going to create waves in the market. Widely regarded as one of the best climbers in the world before the season, Porte went on to add to his reputation, taking wins in a number of week-long races. He was on track for a good result at the Giro, but was taken down by Wheelgate and a series of crashes. Demoralised by the run of bad luck he pulled out, and will be hoping that changes for his first season with BMC. Inter-team politics with Tejay Van Garderen will be interesting to watch, as the American could rightly claim that he deserves sole leadership of the squad.
Michal Kwiatkowski: Etixx-QuickStep to Team Sky
Team Sky were very keen to get their hands on the classy Polish rider and with good reason, as he will bring even more class to their squad. The 2014 World champion started off his season with promise, and took his biggest win in Amstel Gold. He was more of a super domestique in the second half of the year, as he never got his form back after a poorly timed crash just before the Tour de France. He’ll headline the Ardennes classics line-up for Team Sky, but it’s worth noting that he’s also a formidable cobbles rider, and could form a dangerous trio with Geraint Thomas and Ian Stannard. Still developing as a rider, Sky will hope that he will grow to be a dominant classics rider.
Mikel Landa: Astana to Team Sky
Taking third place in the Giro d’Italia meant that the Spaniard’s wage demands were always going to go up, and he ended up at the seemingly bottomless pockets of Team Sky. They’ll be very happy with adding another superb climber to their roster, and he’ll contest the number two GC contender slot with Geraint Thomas. His teamwork, or lack thereof, at various points throughout the season may have team management a bit concerned. Nonetheless expect him to be assigned to support Froome at the Tour and be given a leadership role at the Vuelta a Espana or Giro d'Italia.
Marcel Kittel: Giant-Alpecin to Etixx-QuickStep
It has been a season to forget for Marcel Kittel, he battled with illness early in the season, then struggled to make his comeback at the top level in time for the big races. Giant-Alpecin were right to leave him out of the Tour squad because he wasn’t anywhere near the form he needed to be to take on the other top sprinters. That did appear to be the point where the relationship between the rider and team soured, with the team issuing pointed statements about Kittel’s fitness and the rider saying hat he had been working as hard as possible to get back to top form. The loser in this outcome is Fernando Gaviria, who would have been pinching himself at the prospect of being the main sprinter in one of the best teams in the world as a neo-pro, but may instead find himself leading out the big German.
Mark Cavendish: Etixx-Quickstep to Dimension Data (MTN-Qhubeka)
The rider with the best palmares on this list is the Manxman, who is in danger of becoming a journeyman of the sport. The African team has obviously taken on a lot of new money with their new sponsorship, and they have confirmed their riding style as a sprinting team with this acquisition. Presumably they will also look to upgrade to WorldTour status, to guarantee their entry to the big races where Cavendish has performed in the past. Joining Cavendish is his long-time leadout man Mark Renshaw who is at his best in the final kilometre of races. The rest of the Dimension Data team has shown that they are well set-up to deliver their protected rider to the front in sprint stages. It should be a very productive deal for both parties.