06 September 2011

Recommended Reading: Transfers and Mergers

Slippery as a wet fish
It is easy enough to keep track of the big name mergers like Radioshack and Leopard Trek and Omega Pharma and Quickstep, but where are all the fish in the sea going? Which riders are transferring to which new professional cycling teams in 2012?
2012 will be the year of the mega team. I look forward to seeing the final UCI point tally per team.
ProTeam Mergers for 2012
Leopard-Trek and Radio Shack = Radioshack-Nissan-Trek 
Leopard Trek confirms merger with RadioShack , Press Release , Bruyneel and Becca speak out on new team 
I think the departure of Brian Nygaard to GreenEDGE is fantastic news: Becca confirms Nygaard's departure from Leopard Trek. Except that Flavio Becca wants us all to know that this team will not be American (in spite of the two American companies sponsoring the team), this team will be Luxembourgish. Leopard will continue as license holder of the team, and the team will be based in Luxembourg with a Belgium DS, Johan Bruyneel.
We now drop from four American based ProTeams in 2011, to only two in 2012 - Garmin-Cervelo and BMC. BMC is co-owned by American Jim Ochowicz and sponsored by BMC, the Swiss-based bicycle frame manufacturer. I understand the need for American teams to distance themselves from the Lance Armstrong legacy, at least in the coming year, although Johan Bruyneel is staying true to Livestrong. 

The other big question is who is buying out the contracts of the remaining unsigned riders resulting from the mergers. Will they be subsidized or influenced regarding the teams they will ride for? 
Omega Pharma-Lotto and Quickstep = Omega Pharma - Quickstep 
Quick Step and Omega Pharma set to join forces for 2012  Unlucky Lotto is on their own for 2012.
Pro rider transfers for 2012
Over at Podium Cafe, they have been compiling a long list of who is IN and who is OUT for 2012. This roster list is a work in progress, and not fully complete (e.g., Levi is reportedly, but not officially, going to Omega Pharma-Quickstep team), but is a substantial work, worth reading to catch a few of the transfers you may have missed by reading the daily headlines.
And it is not over yet, peak period for contract signing is August 1 - October 20, 2011. Last year October 1st was the deadline for all teams to file their paperwork with the UCI (Union Cycliste Internationale) to apply for a ProTeam license. Teams will be requested to lodge a dossier, incorporating sponsorship contracts, contracts with 12 riders, details of the team’s budget and a bank guarantee. Last year, new teams were also required to submit a description of the team structure. 
October 1st is not the last day that teams can or will sign a rider, but the riders listed on the initial filing with the UCI matter for overall team licensing and ranking. That is why most of the rider transfers will be settled by the month of September. Last year 18 ProTeams were licensed by the UCI, this year there will be a few less big names applying, perhaps opening an opportunity for other teams, like the very successful Europcar team, to finally be approved. 
I am most curious to see the overall distribution of budgets and UCI rider points across the teams for 2012. I imagine a reverse pyramid, I'm sure we are all thinking the same thing. The mega teams will be powerful, but I still like to root for the underdog.