Cycling’s transfer window has been open since August 1, but still deals are being done. The delayed nature of the 2020 season has seen something of a shift in the market, with Grand Tours running in October and November, giving out-of-contract riders the chance to earn new contracts even as the next season draws closer.
Several transfers were announced on Friday, including that of the Russian GC rider Ilnur Zakarin, who leaves CCC Team after one season as the Polish squad shuts down at the end of 2020.
More deals will come before the season’s end, with Circus-Wanty Gobert looking to sign riders for their WorldTour venture and NTT Pro Cycling looking ever likelier to disband this season. Here’s a round-up of the latest transfer news.
Ilnur Zakarin to Gazprom-RusVelo
The biggest transfer news of the day comes from Russia, where the ProTeam Gazprom-RusVelo have announced the signing of Ilnur Zakarin, who rejoins the team having raced there in 2013 and 2014.
During a five-year spell at the now-defunct Katusha team, the Tatar took two Giro d’Italia stage wins, third at the Vuelta a España, and overall victory at the Tour de Romandie. This year has been a disappointing one for Zakarin, leaving the Tour de France after a crash and so far dropping out of the GC picture at the Giro.
He’ll join Gazprom-RusVelo – who recently announced the gas company’s renewed three-year commitment – on a two-year deal, handing a boost to their chances of a wildcard return to the Giro d’Italia in 2021.
“I know almost every teammate in person,” Zakarin said in a team press release. “The same applies to team sport director Dmitry Konyshev with whom we have worked and achieved great results together.
“Speaking about my goals, I would like to be straight to the point – my aim is not to only share my experience, but to demonstrate [the] maximum and achieve new victories with the team.
“We have already talked with team management about the 2021 race calendar. The stage races in the first part of the season will be my main focus and I will do my best to be at my peak form in the spring.”
Zakarin is the latest rider to leave CCC, joining Greg Van Avermaet (AG2R Citroën), Matteo Trentin (UAE Team Emirates), Alessandro De Marchi and Patrick Bevin (both Israel Start-Up Nation), among others.
Kristoffer Halvorsen joins Uno-X
Norwegian sprinter Kristoffer Halvorsen heads back to ProTeam level after three years spent at Sky and EF Pro Cycling, moving to the Uno-X Pro Cycling Team on a two-year deal.
The 24-year-old, who was under-23 road race world champion in 2016, hasn’t raced since cycling’s restart in July. Back at the start of the season, he took two top-10 placings at the Tour Down Under and 11th at Kuurne-Brussel-Kuurne.
“Now we have one of the world’s fastest sprinters,” Uno-X boss Jens Haugland told Aftenposten.no. “Kristoffer is a core guy and will enjoy this group. He has expressed a strong desire to race here.”
Halvorsen said back in August that he lost motivation during the COVID-19 pandemic, adding that he was on track to compete when the season was paused in March.
“At worst, I was very depressed,” he told Fædrelandsvennen in August. “Instead of doing what I love, I dug my own grave a little.”
Hideto Nakane steps up to EF Pro Cycling
Japanese rider Hideto Nakane has moved the other way – going up from ProTeam level to EF Pro Cycling. His transfer comes after spending a year at Nippo Delko One Provence, preceded by three at Nippo-Vini Fantini.
This season, the 30-year-old took sixth place and a stage win at the Tour de Langkawi, also finishing seventh at the Tour de Taiwan. EF team boss Jonathan Vaughters said Nakane first came to his attention at the 2019 Japan Cup.
“I noticed him when he was climbing in the lead group at the Japan Cup, and I took note,” he said. “I’m excited to welcome him to our team – I think Nakane will make a great addition to our multicultural crew of riders and staff and bring his own style to the table.”
Nakane, meanwhile, acknowledged that the move is a big step up, but said that he was ready for it.
“I am very glad and thrilled that I will be riding for this wonderful team,” he said. “I understand that the mission of a WorldTeam is extremely difficult, but I am ready for that. I will do my best to make the best use of my own strengths and contribute to the success of the team.”