After cancelling his announcement Tuesday, Ineos’s Dutch mountains domestique Wout Poels announced Wednesday that he has signed a two-year deal with Bahrain-Merida. The 31-year-old rider, who has come in the top-10 of a Grand Tour once in 14 tries, will be pursuing his own interests in at least one Grand Tour.
What might Mikel Landa (Movistar > Bahrain-Merida) make of this? He was teammates with Poels at Sky for a couple of years, but surely FreeLanda wanted to be free of other riders with Grand Tour aspirations.
Vincenzo Nibali‘s transfer (Bahrain-Merida > Trek-Segafredo) made room for Landa. Nibali’s days of winning Grand Tours are likely over, but a runner-up spot at the Giro showed he can still be a factor. Kenny Ellisonde (Ineos > Trek-Segafredo) is the second Ineos domestique to sign with someone else in the past three days.
Tom Dumoulin (Sunweb > Jumbo-Visma) strengthens the Dutch Bees, which has usurped Movistar’s role as Ineos’ main Grand Tour challenger. Dumoulin is not the only proven Grand Tour winner on the move: Giro champ Richard Carapaz (Movistar > Ineos) gives Ineos four Grand Tour winners. Four.
Three notable riders will be swapping WorldTour teams for (at the moment) Pro Continental squads. Nairo Quintana (Movistar > Arkea-Samsic) ensures that his new outfit gets a wild card at the Tour de France. Dan Martin (UAE-Emirates > Israel Cycling Academy) has switched to a team that might be merging with a WorldTour squad soon. Sprinting powerhouse Elia Viviani (Deceuninck-Quick Step > Cofidis) must expect Cofidis to step up a level next season.
Movistar may have been depleted by Landa, Carapaz and Quintana’s exits, but Enric Mas (Deceuninck-Quick Step > Movistar) hopes to return to the lofty heights of second place in the Vuelta a España at his new home.
More one-day race aces besides Viviani are on the move. Matteo Trentin (Mitchelton-Scott > CCC) joins Greg Van Avermaet and new fellows Ilnur Zakarin and Fausto Masnada on the “Polish Carrots”. Tiejs Benoot makes room at Lotto-Soudal (Lotto-Soudal > Sunweb) for Philippe Gilbert (Deceuninck-Quick Step > Lotto-Soudal) and John Degenkolb (Sunweb > Lotto-Soudal).
All three Canadians in the WorldTour–Michael Woods, Antoine Duchesne and Hugo Houle–have contracts with their teams for 2020. Nick Zukowsky is the only Canadian with a contract on a Pro Continental team for next year; he’s signed with Rally.