Who’s found a home, Who’s Left Hanging?

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The 2012 professional season is well and truely over and there have been many shuffles in the the placement of riders for 2013. Jono Lovelock tells us about which Aussies have found a new home, who’s packed their bags and come back home, and who’s hanging up the wheels for good…

Cycling is a stressful sport. Rainy days, howling crosswinds and gruelling mountain passes. Seven hour single day races, three week grand tours and a season that now stretches from January to, well, January. But all of this is the easy part. Actually getting to ride and race your bike is just icing on the cake.

You spend the rest of your time throwing together all the ingredients so you can actually have a cake. The aspect most crucial to the cake-cycling analogy is actually having a contract with a professional team in the first place. The contract is pretty much the flour, the eggs, the butter and the sugar. Without the contract you’ve got no cake. Without the contract, you can be the best cyclist -or pastry chef- going round, but you’re not going anywhere.

So from the very first race of the season riders are dropping names and getting email addresses in order to sow the seeds for the following year’s contract. Every race is an opportunity to earn valuable World Tour points and a chance to impress someone who may be watching.

Although teams are not supposed to be entering contract negotiations until after July 1st of any given year, we all know this is not the case. Riders are busy all year ferreting through the options they have available and those still left out in the dust once it gets around to October, November or even December are definitely starting to feel the pinch.

So this begs the question, now the transfer season is over, who’s found a new home? Who didn’t find a home? And who’s hanging it up?

Mind you this is not a complete list and for the time being we are looking only at the WorldTour and Pro-Continental levels (for this article at least). Of course it would come as no shock that we’ve taken a (mostly) Aussie focus but if they are any transfers you think are worthy of discussion give us a heads up in the comments.

AUSSIE RIDER PRO TRANSFERS

When we take a peek at the Orica-GreenEDGE stables we see more movement at the management level. Two Aussie stalwarts Matt Wilson and Robbie McEwen have both officially hung it up, although that hasn’t stopped McEwen from handing out a few ‘how to race a crit’ lessons in Japan and Noosa.

The big talking point for Orica-GreenEDGE was the departure of Jack Bobridge to Rabobank. Rumoured to be a bit of a party boy and having his driver’s license suspended for 8 months for drink driving, there were whispers going around that perhaps this was not the most mutual of departures. No matter which story you believe, it’s clear that a track rider as talented as ‘Jacky Bobby’ is going to have a hell of a time ripping the legs of all comers in the Northern European flat lands. It will be great to watch!

Jack Bobridge

Team Garmin-Sharp has always played a vital role in the development of Aussie cyclists. In the pre GreenEDGE days it allowed young track stars such as the aforementioned Bobridge and the Meyer brothers to hone their track skills whilst keeping their professional road ambitions alive. Even after GreenEDGE emptied Garmin’s Aussie ranks and the Matt White/Trent Lowe/Dr Del Moral affair, they’ve still kept their slice of the Aussie development pie. Steele Von Hoff and Lachlan Morton have both stepped up from Garmin’s Chipotle Development Team and they’ve also secured the services of Jayco-AIS graduate and London Olympian Rohan Dennis.

Morton has been a long time development project for Garmin having been part of their development program since 2010. Back in 2009 as a fresh faced junior, Lachie flew up the slopes of the Mt Evans Hill Climb barely 5 minutes behind Tom Danielson. Not bad for a kid on school holidays! Von Hoff on the other hand came out of nowhere at a later age as many of us may remember.

Steel Von Hoff leading the bunch at the World Ports Classic this season

Following his flurry of results in 2011, his then coach and Genesys Wealth Advisors Team manager Andrew Christie-Jonhston made it clear he thought a step straight into the pro ranks was a step too far. So with some protracted negotiations and nervous moments, Von Hoff ended up landing the perfect development path. After half a year with the Chipotle Development team he was given the chance to play with the big boys at Garmin-Sharp as a stagiare. Now he’s concreted his spot at the top with his first Pro contract and it will be great to see him bashing bars with the best of them in 2013 (Don’t forget he’s already mixing it up with Boonen and Greipel)

Another AIS graduate Jay McCarthy capitalised on a strong season, the highlight being a prologue victory at the Tour De L’Avenir, and put the pen to paper to join Bjarne Riis and Team Saxo-Tinkoff. It will be exciting to watch Jay develop over the years, he can do it all!

Even more interestingly, Rory Sutherland – a man many believed would see out his career in Northern America- made the leap back across the Atlantic Ocean to also join Team Saxo-Tinkoff leaving his American UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling Team. Sutherland’s career showed much promise when he started out with Rabobank in the early 2000s. Following a positive test for the non-performance enhancing clomiphene, he served a 9 month suspension but struggled to re find his European feet. Whilst at UnitedHealthcare, Sutherland has entertained the company of fellow Aussies: Hilton Clarke, Johnny Clarke, Ben Day and Karl Menzies. All of whom share a similar story in being riders with the ability to mix it up on European roads, but for whom the stars never seemed to align. So it’s with great intrigued we follow the journey of this Aussie strongman back to Europe.

Rory Sutherland at the 2011 Quiznos Pro Challenge

David Tanner is another quiet achiever who is leaving the Riis ranks at Saxo-Tinkoff and will join Bobridge, Mark Renshaw and Graeme Brown over at Rabobank.

Tassie Duo Will Clarke and Cameron Wurf have both stepped upwards and onwards after a year with the Asia’s first Pro Continental cycling team; Team Champion System. After a solid season of domestique work for his training partner and team leader in Ivan Basso back in 2011, Wurf lost his place with Liquigas for 2012 thanks to some ‘overzealous’ agent representation. After just one year predominantly riding as a team leader at Champion System he has made his rightful move back to the top ranking. Clarke on the other hand joins Team Argos-Shimano and will surely perform a formidable role as part of John Degenkolb’s lead out train.

Stepping Up?

Jay McCarthy- From Jayco AIS to Saxo-Tinkoff
Rohan Dennis-From Jayo AIS to Garmin Sharp

Lachlan Morton- From Chipotle Development Team to Garmin Sharp
Steele Von Hoff- From Chipotle Development Team to Garmin Sharp
Rory Sutherland- From UnitedHealthcare to Saxo-Tinkoff
Cameron Wurf- From Champion System to Liquigas Cannondale
Will Clarke- From Champion System to Argos-Shimano

Stepping Across?

Jack Bobridge- From Orica-GreenEDGE to Rabobank
David Tanner- From Saxo-Tinkoff to Rabobank
Mark Cavendish- From Team Sky to Omega Pharma- Quick Step

Hanging It Up?

Matt Wilson- Orica-GreenEDGE
Robbie McEwen- Orica-GreenEDGE
Jeremy Hunt- Team Sky
Jan Kirsipuu- Champion System

As noted, GreenEDGE have lost a couple of their senior riders, and one can only wonder how much longer guys like Stuart O’Grady have left! If he follows the example of Jan Kirsipuu, however, he may just go on indefinitely. Kirsipuu took a step back from the big league after leaving Credit Agricole at the end of 2006. He did not, however, take any steps away from full time cycling. Since then he has traipsed the globe racing for a small Asian based team that has since blossomed into what we now know as Team Champion System. Having raced against him at numerous Asian tours the last few years I can vouch that age has not wearied him. That and I’ve never seen him smile. Ever.

Most Melbournians will feel some regret that ‘our’ local boy, Jeremy Hunt has decided to finally hang it up after 17 years. He’s a regular on beach road and perhaps now he’ll become a weekend warrior just like the rest of us?

AUSTRALIAN NATIONAL ROAD SERIES RIDERS

At National Road Series (NRS) level there has been some shuffling of the cars, but most interest lies with the large contingent of Aussies heading over to the motherland to race for Team Raleigh. Budget Forklifts duo Mark O’Brien and Sam Witmitz, Drapac all-rounder Lachie Norris and Rapha Condor sprinter Richie Lang have all signed up for the British continental team. In what is great news for this aussie quartet, Raleigh is rumoured to have a large enough cash injection to warrant a Pro Continental bid for 2014. So stay tuned, there’s lots of interesting stuff happening here.

Melbourne to Warrnambool part of the National Road Series 2012
Melbourne to Warrnambool part of the National Road Series 2012

Speaking of Team Raleigh they came ever so close to scoring another two Aussies, Luke Davison and Anthony Giacoppo. Riding for Budget Forklifts and Genesys Wealth Advisors respectively both riders fought hard for the overall 2012 NRS crown with Davison ultimately coming out the victor.

After sifting through offers from Champion System and Team Raleigh, just to name a few, Giacoppo made the decision to bide his time and remain in Australia for another year. Thus 2013 will see Giacoppo staying put at the newly named Huon Salmon Genesys Wealth Advisors p/b Praties. Davison on the other hand made the move to Drapac Pro Cycling with the intention of balancing his track and road ambitions with a stagiare spot on a World Tour team the aim for the second half of the year.

2013 promises a lot for the continued success of Aussies in the Pro Peloton. With the new season getting closer and closer we will soon get a good idea of how the latest batch of transfers have played out. Especially with whispers of Mick Rogers jumping across to Saxo-Tinkoff as well! Is Cavendish the biggest transfer of 2012-2013?

See here for a Microsoft Excel spreadsheet of all 2013 pro rider transfers” We found this great spreadsheet thanks to the guys at VeloRooms (You know who you are!)

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