With this season coming to a close, there are still big name contracts on the market
The 2018 season is coming to its end and team rosters are filling for 2019, but several top riders remain without contracts.
Stars like Rohan Dennis, Richie Porte and Niki Terpstra confirmed their moves for the next season. Many other riders either have not confirmed their moves or are still searching for new jobs as 2019 nears.
Here is a list of six prominent riders still in limbo:
Wout Van Aert
Wout Van Aert at the 2018 Paris-Roubaix (Sunada)
The three-time Belgian cyclo-cross world champion had a deal with Veranda’s Willems-Crelan through 2019. Afterwards, he is due to debut with a WorldTour team with LottoNL-Jumbo.
However, the team’s merger with Roompot-Netherlands Loterij for 2019 created a bad atmosphere for Van Aert. He left the team and a court battle is expected over the 2019 contract, which Van Aert may need to buy himself out of.
Until the court case clears the issue, Van Aert is not likely to announce his 2019 road team. It is expected that LottoNL will step in and sign him one year early, however. This winter, Van Aert will continue racing cyclo-cross but as an independent rider with private sponsors.
He is one of the most anticipated new Classics riders after he debuted this spring with a ninth place in the Tour of Flanders and 13th in Paris-Roubaix.
- Conor Dunne, Tour de Yorkshire 2017, stage one
Dunne’s career looked to be on a good trajectory after he won the Irish road championship and singed a two-year contract extension with Aqua Blue Sport this summer. However, the team’s collapse has threatened his future in cycling.
The 26-year-old still has not announced his plans for the 2019 season. Thinking it could be his last race, Dunne, along with Ireland’s Ryan Mullen (Trek-Segafredo), enjoyed the world championship as much as possible. He made the race’s long escape before the favourites lifted the pace and Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) won the race.
Some of Dunne’s team-mates have already signed deals. American Larry Warbasse will join AG2R La Mondiale and Irishman Eddie Dunbar, already switched over to Team Sky.
Ben Swift is on the market for 2019 (Sunada)
The 30-year-old followed the same career path as Chris Froome and Geraint Thomas via Barloworld to Team Sky. Two years ago, he broke free of Sky to try a new experience with UAE Team Emirates.
The team and Swift will not continue together for 2019, leaving Swift looking for a new team. In the last two years with UAE, Swift was held back by lingering injuries or crashes. This spring, he hurt his back in a Tour of Flanders crash that ruined his plans to race both the Giro d’Italia and Tour de France.
Swift is reportedly has been talking with Team Sky about a possible return and other teams as well.
Renshaw and Eisel
- Mark Renshaw at the 2016 Tour de France
The lead-out duo is waiting for the confirmation of Mark Cavendish’s contract renewal with Team Dimension Data. Rumours had the Tour de France top sprinter heading to Team Bahrain-Merida along with new sponsor McLaren, but the deal apparently is not happening with Cavendish set to stay at Dimension Data for one more year.
Australian Mark Renshaw and Austrian Bernhard Eisel should have their contracts renewed with Cavendish’s, but nothing has been confirmed yet. Both have been riding alongside Cavendish for most of the last 10 years, forming his core group.
Eisel, now 37 and recovered from brain surgery this spring, won Gent-Wevelgem in 2011. Renshaw last sprinted to victory in the 2014 Tour of Britain, one of the few times when he is not putting his energy towards other team-mates.
- Darwin Atapuma wins stage five of the 2016 Tour de Suisse (Watson)
Atapuma turned heads with his stage win in the Giro del Trentino in 2012. A stage win in the Tour of Poland led to a contract with BMC Racing.
The Colombian went to UAE Team Emirates two years ago to aim for tour classifications and a Grand Tour stage victory. He came close in 2017, coming second to Warren Barguil on the Tour de France’s Izoard stage.
This year, the team fielded him in both the Giro and the Tour to help Fabio Aru in Italy and then Dan Martin in France. However, the two did not agree on a 2019 deal. The 30-year-old’s future remains unclear.
The four-time time trial world champion is expected to head to Team LottoNL-Jumbo, but his arrival has yet to be announced.
The German spent years with Highroad and then Quick-Step, but the last two years with few wins in Katusha-Alpecin apparently created tension.
LottoNL-Jumbo is expected to add him to its roster to strengthen the time trial team with Primož Roglič, fourth overall in the Tour de France this July, and Steven Kruijswijk, fifth overall. It is also expected to use his strong staying power deploy in the classics.