Five men’s transfers we like for 2022
Esteban Chaves and João Almeida are among the big names who seem like strong fits with their 2022 teams.
Three months since the transfer window officially opened, we know now where most (though not all) of cycling’s big stars will be racing next year. With no major races to scrutinize at the moment, we here at CyclingTips are turning our analytical eyes to the comings and goings of the pros to see if we might be able to offer some insight into how riders will fit into their new digs next season.
Of course, you’ll have to be the judge of whether we actually succeed in being insightful.
Assuming you’re up to that task – and assuming you’ve already read Abby Mickey’s take on transfers in the women’s peloton – here are five transfers we like on the men’s side for 2022.
A handful of good climbing performances this season – including a stage win at the Volta a Catalunya – suggest that Esteban Chaves remains a rider worth watching even after a few seasons battling health issues and a relative lack of results. Someone looking to re-find the form that propelled him to Grand Tour success and a Monument win earlier in his career would ideally end up at a team with space on the roster for a star climber but without too much pressure to perform. EF feels like just such a place.
Had Chaves signed with a team like Jumbo-Visma or the Ineos Grenadiers, he would either be relegated to domestique duty right away, or put in the difficult position of needing to prove himself worthy of a leadership role almost immediately. At EF, the expectations for sweeping success in the Grand Tours just aren’t as lofty, and there should be a bit of room amongst the likes of Rigoberto Urán and Hugh Carthy for Chaves to fit into the picture either way.
Basically, if Chaves makes a stunning return to form at EF, it will be a coup for all involved. If he doesn’t, he can still focus on hunting Grand Tour stages and one-week and one-day results without the weight of expectation holding him back, and without the looming threat of being moved into a support role. Plus, the charismatic climbing talent seems to have just the kind of personality that a media-savvy EF squad can leverage. This signing just makes sense.
For all of Tadej Pogačar’s dominance, UAE-Team Emirates has a surprising dearth of Grand Tour prospects behind its Slovenian star, at least when compared to the Ineos Grenadiers or Jumbo-Visma. Their rivals are loaded with rising three-week talents, but UAE Team Emirates did not have quite as much firepower waiting in the wings this season. João Almeida (among other recent UAE signings) should help change that.
Almeida already counts two Grand Tour top 10s on his career palmares at just 23 years old, and he collected his first GC win at a WorldTour race this year at the Tour of Poland. His all-round skillset makes him a promising bet to build around as he continues to develop, and UAE is increasingly seen as an outfit focused on developing youngsters.
Almeida should be in line for a leadership role at the Giro d’Italia and/or the Vuelta a España in his new squad, which is also likely to focus on his Grand Tour prospects perhaps a bit more than Deceuninck-QuickStep did.
28-year-old Christophe Laporte is one of the most talented Frenchmen in the pro peloton, combining a fast finishing kick with a strong Classics skillset. He may not be the biggest name outside of France, having taken most of his career wins in second-tier French races, but WorldTour success seems like an achievable goal considering his talents.
Jumbo-Visma will add Laporte to a Classics lineup that needed some firepower behind Wout van Aert, and while Laporte will obviously be expected to play second fiddle to the superstar all-rounder, Jumbo-Visma could actually kind of use a second fiddle for the Classics. The team did not have the most depth behind its leader deep in races this year. By lining Laporte up for the Classics alongside Van Aert, the Dutch outfit can hope to have two capable speedsters going well into race finales.
That should open up plenty of tactical avenues for Jumbo-Visma, as Trek-Segafredo can attest with Jasper Stuyven and Mads Pedersen as the team’s Classics leaders. Outside of the Classics, Laporte may find his sprint opportunities somewhat limited by the presence of Dylan Groenewegen, but he managed to carve out chances for himself at Cofidis just fine with Elia Viviani also on the roster and it’s a long season, so there should be enough race days to go around.
After battling knee issues for a few years, Giacomo Nizzolo has thrived since the 2020 season, and it was a wonderful moment when the Italian sprinter took a long-awaited first Giro d’Italia stage win back in May. Seemingly revitalized at 32, he looks like an excellent pickup for Israel Start-Up Nation.
Nizzolo flies a bit under-the-radar as a sprinter, but since the start of last year, he has taken three WorldTour victories, an Italian national road title, and a European Continental road title, among other results. His arrival also coincides with the retirement of André Greipel, making him a natural fit into a team that suddenly needs a sprinter.
With a solid budget and some talented engines on the team to help shepherd a fast finisher toward the fast finishes but no major competition for the role of sprint leader, Israel Start-Up Nation should provide Nizzolo with ample opportunities to ply his trade. Meanwhile, Nizzolo’s recent track record suggests that he’ll be able to reward the team with results.
Three years ago, when Iván Sosa signed with the team then known as Sky after initially planning to head to Trek-Segafredo, the Colombian climber was one of cycling’s most sought-after prospects. After three seasons with the organization now known as the Ineos Grenadiers, however, it’s not all that much clearer what kind of rider Sosa is, or will be.
He was an enigmatic figure during his stint with the British WorldTour outfit, showing flashes of brilliance amid stretches without results or even with without opportunities to hunt for results at all. At just 22 years of age in 2019, his first year with the Ineos Grenadiers, Sosa won a second straight Vuelta a Burgos GC title amid a strong season overall. The next two seasons were quieter, with a Burgos stage win and a stage and the GC at the Tour de la Provence his only wins since 2020. Sosa is clearly an extremely talented climber, but he has not often factored in the biggest of races, and he was often relegated to domestique duty at Ineos, if being taken to races at all. He did not start a Grand Tour in 2021.
The Movistar team, long a home for talented climbers, is in major need of young talents to reinvigorate its Grand Tour-focused roster. Sosa, who only just turned 24, fits the bill nicely. He will be one of several newcomers in a retooled roster, so there may be at least a bit of competition for opportunities, but Alejandro Valverde is finally winding down his career and Enric Mas is the only other established GC leader on the team. If Sosa can find his form, he should get the chances to show what he can do, which wasn’t the case at Ineos.