Garmin’s Transitions?

Transfer-wise, the summer had been quiet for the guys over at Garmin-Transitions and the Cervélo Test Team—at least until last week, when rumors emerged, and were then confirmed, that Cervélo’s squad would be no more in 2011.  Instead, Cervélo would be joining Garmin as team co-sponsor to form Garmin-Cervélo for 2011 and beyond.  But the questions remains: which riders from both teams will form the basis of the new squad’s roster?  On the eve of new roster announcements, we thought now was a better time than ever to speculate—let’s get started.

Before the last week’s drama, Garmin was looking like a full house at 27 or 28 riders, but clearly everyone can’t stay.  Let’s look at the Garmin roster and see who’s got a contract in place for next year.

On the “Contract Through Next Year” list we have:

1. Christian Vande Velde – through 2012

2. Dan Martin – through 2012

3. Dave Zabriskie – through 2013

4. Fredrik Kessiakoff – through 2011 (probably)

5. Jack Bobridge – through 2011

6. Julian Dean – through 2011

7. Martijn Maaskant – through 2013

8. Michael Kreder – through 2013

9. Murilo Fischer – through 2012

10. Ryder Hesjedal – through 2013

11. Steven Cozza – through 2011

12. Svein Tuft –through 2011 (possibly longer)

13. Tyler Farrar – through 2011

“Confirmed Somewhere Else Next Year”:

Ricardo Van der Velde

In the “I Can’t Find Proof But I Can’t Imagine They’re Leaving” list:

14, 15,16, and 17. Peter Stetina, Kirk Carlsen, Cameron and Trevor Meyer – All relatively new pro’s with a deadly combination of youth, talent and low asking-prices.

18. David Millar – Given his position as an owner, I don’t see him leaving.  That said, this could be an impetus to trade the bike for a director position.

19. Robbie Hunter – Hunter was a new signing in 2010; it’s likely he signed a two-year contract.  He’s also a semi-valuable member of Farrar’s lead-out train.

20. Johan Van Summeren – Also a new signing in 2010, as well as a talented and powerful rider in both the classics in the Tour.  They’re crazy if they let him leave.

This all leaves Garmin with 13 riders who we know have contracts, and seven who are pretty likely to have contracts for next year.  One rider (Van der Velde) is already confirmed as leaving.  But there are more still to consider.

In the “Contract Is Up This Year As Far As We Know” list:

Christian Meier – 2010

Matt Wilson – 2010

Tom Peterson – 2010

And last but not least, the “Who Knows?” list:

Danny Pate

Timmy Duggan

Tom Danielson

Trent Lowe

If Cervélo riders are coming to Garmin next year, the majority of the vacancies will likely come from the two lists above.  Let’s take a look at each rider and see if we can guess what the future may bring:

Christian Meier – At 25, Meier is a young rider with loads of potential.  The Canadian National Champion in 2008, he’s been with Garmin for two years, having come from Symmetrics with Svein Tuft.  Meier won the intermediate sprint competition at the Tour of Basque country earlier in the year and being Canadian probably can’t hurt with Cervélo coming as a new sponsor.  He appearred on the preliminary Vuelta start list, but didn’t make the official start list.  That could be a bad sign, indicating he’s on his way out; an entirely neutral sign, indicating his form wasn’t where they wanted it to be; or a good sign, indicating his position is secure, and the Vuelta is being used as a test for other riders.  (See below.)

Tom Peterson – Peterson was originally slated as a reserve team member for the Vuelta, but is now on the squad in place of Christian Meier. Peterson came to Garmin in 2009 after impressing many with his performance at the 2008 Tour of Chihuahua.  He started things off with a bang in 2009 by winning a stage at the Tour of California and finished the year with the KOM jersey at the Herald Sun Tour.  Another young guy with potential, he was a member of the Tour of Poland squad that supported Dan Martin’s overall victory.  It’s likely his performance impressed management enough to earn a spot on the Vuelta squad.

Matt Wilson – Another member of the team’s Vuelta squad, Wilson’s value to the team is only something they can gauge.  His results this year have been lackluster, but for a rider whose value has been more about helping others win than winning himself, we can only speculate.  My guess: he’ll lose his spot to one of the riders coming over from Cervélo.  It’s a tough call for sure, but business is business.

Danny Pate – Pate’s been with Garmin since the TIAA-CREF days.  After starting his professional career at Saeco in 2000, he retreated to the relative safety of the US domestic scene, thanks to a principled stand against the doping culture he encountered while abroad. His U-23 Time Trial World Championship clearly showed he had the ability to compete with Europe’s best.  In 2003, a conversation with his then teammate Jonathan Vaughters helped set in motion the creation of what ultimately became Garmin-Transitions.  Clearly, he’s a friend of Vaughters and a sentimental favorite of the team.  That said, his performance this year has been largely underwhelming, and he was omitted from Garmin’s squads for all three grand tours.  Will he take a page from Will Frishkorn’s playbook and read the writing on the wall?

Timmy Duggan – Like Pate, has been around since the TIAA-CREF days.  A broken elbow in late June ruined his chances of making Garmin’s Vuelta roster.  He’s back in one piece now, but missed most of July and August.  He gets hurt quite a bit, often very badly.  He’s been a pro since 2003, and might be looking for work elsewhere.

Tom Danielson – The story of Tom Danielson’s cycling career is one of missed opportunities and bad luck.  There have been plenty of flashes of genuine brilliance from Danielson over the years, and in his earliest days as a pro he looked sure to be one of the best.  In spite of, or maybe as a result of this, he’s never lived up to expectations. Vaughters has written about the talent that Danielson is, and it’s clear he’s been pulling for the guy. He’s riding the Vuelta, and I suspect he’s been told it’s time to stand and deliver.  Given how Danielson appears to perform under pressure, that not a good thing.  Even worse: the guy hasn’t been mentioned in Garmin’s plans for next year—a bad omen.

Trent Lowe – Lowe’s a former mountain biker who was brought on for his climbing ability.  He won Best Young Rider in the 2008 Tour of Georgia—we haven’t seen or heard much of him since.  He’s also been linked to Fly-V Australia, an Australian team with Pro Tour aspirations.

Let’s recap what we know:

We can confirm 2011 contracts for 13 riders from 2010’s Garmin-Transitions team, with another 7 riders that seem likely to have contracts through 2011—bringing the total roster to 20.  We know 1 rider of the remaining 8 is leaving.  Of the final seven, 3 have contracts that appear to end in 2010 and 4 we just don’t know about.

So where does that leave us?

While unconfirmed due to UCI rules, Christophe Le Mével coming to Garmin in 2011 was by most accounts a done-deal in July.  Recent news suggests his contract isn’t signed, but that’s largely an “administrative issue”.  An interview with him on 8/26 makes it seem like he’ll be joining the squad.  That brings the team’s roster to 21.

Now for Cervélo: Based on what we’ve learned this week, we can assume Thor Hushovd is coming to Garmin, along with 6 other riders.  Six names have emerged, either in mainstream cycling press (here too), or by some fancy Twitter sleuthing.  Aside from Hushovd, Garmin is reportedly talking to Haussler, Klier and Hammond. Lloyd has also been linked, as has Jeremy Hunt.  There’s some circumstantial evidence that Brett Lancaster may also be headed to Garmin—or at least a team with a base in Girona.  Are these the 7 riders to which Hushovd is alluding?  At this point, we can only speculate.

Whether or not Hushovd is 100% accurate with his rider count is an unknown.  Assuming he’s right, the spots will likely come from the “older” riders who’ve been underwhelming the last few years at Garmin, and probably one or two contract buyouts.  Slots could be opened by not renewing the contracts of people whose terms are up at the end of 2010.  It’s also possible that contracted riders could be bought out of their contracts.

I hate speculating about a person’s livelihood, but it can’t be easy to be Matt Wilson, Trent Lowe, Danny Pate, Timmy Duggan or Tom Danielson right now. Christian Meier’s drop from Garmin’s preliminary Vuelta roster is also curious.

Things are also looking pretty bad for Martijn Maaskant with the arrival of more classics contenders. Could he be a candidate for a contract buyout?  And what about Hunter?  Hushovd isn’t the same sort of sprinter Farrar is, so I don’t think there will be as much friction there as people are anticipating.  How similar are Hunter and Hushovd?  Will Hunter be happy playing leadout man to Farrar and Hushovd?

How this plays out remains to be seen—hopefully, both the fans and the riders affected will know more soon.

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7 Responses to Garmin’s Transitions?

  1. Jarvis says:

    Murilo Fischer has gone to Movistar, so one less.

  2. Jeremy says:

    Sounds like the Garmin riders who were going to be affected were notified sooner rather than later, like the Cervélo riders. Hope Fischer’s as happy at Movistar as he claimed he was at Garmin – he’s quite effusive in the article I linked above.

  3. Stanley says:

    Gabba Rasch confirmed as part of Hushovds entourage.

    What seems clear is that none of the stager racers at Cervelo will join Garmin.

    Also, we’ve all agreed that Sastre’s career is now officially over, right?

  4. ml says:

    The thing that stands out to me with Hushovd moving to Garmin is how will their Tour team look. They will have to include both Tyler and Thor, right? So, how will that work? I realize they are different types of riders/sprinters, but if they both have a desire for the Green, how will that play out? Who gets the train? Is Garmin giving up on having a GC contender and look toward dominating the “green podium”? That seems pretty silly. Strange, strange, strange…

  5. Jeremy says:

    Even though Thor is going to end up being the green jersey for 2010 when Petacchi gets banned, I think the way he "gave up" towards the end of the tour this year is indicative of where he sees his career going. He doesn't seem to have the explosiveness to really compete with Cavendish, Farrar or a turbo-charged Petacchi in a field sprint. I think next year (and the next few years) we're going to see Cavendish in green, and Garmin will have to focus on well picked stage wins.

    I think Vaughters said it in a recent interview – they want results in the classics. It's why I think Maaskant will end up somewhere else for 2011 – he's redundant.

    Stanley, I'm not sure his career is over, but I don't think anyone will mistake him for a GT contender again.

  6. michael says:

    I am really interested in where HH ends up. I don’t think Garmin is the best situation for him. One interesting thought that crossed my mind? Saxobank.

    Cancellara has been very clear that he does not want to go on winning the same races repeatedly. If he is really serious about focusing on the Ardennes classics next year I could see him using Flanders and/or Roubaix as tune-up races. Could you imagine having him at your service for those races?

    If he indeed was not kidding when he made those statements in multiple media this past spring, however else Saxo gets to join their classics team (as it is basically gutted right now) could be in for a wild ride.

    As for Cervelo, I am most curious to see where Dom Rollin ends up. He has been having what some people would call a well-timed end of season increase in form, which can only help him find a new team. He belongs in Europe, and has learned the ropes for a couple of seasons now. I think Cervelo were wasting his talents using him exclusively as a domestique.

    Finally, Garmin as a classics squad? I like it :)

    Hesjedal for the Ardennes, Millar, Hushovd, Farrar, Van Summeren + the cervelo boys if they are brought in (Klier is invaluable, though I could see him making a transition to DS for spring races given his age) would make for one hell of a team with major aspirations through the entire spring from Feb through April.

    Unless Garmin signed a big-name GT contender I like this change of tactic, as they clearly do not have a home-grown GT top 3 rider in house at the moment.

  7. MarkoPolo says:

    Garmin didn’t really have a GT GC contender anyway – getting top 10 TdF finishes for Wiggins and Hesjedal was pretty remarkable. It makes sense for them to concentrate on the classics, given that they already had a decent set of riders for those races to build on.

    Outside of the sprints and classics, Svein Tuft seems to have found some real TT form. Dan Martin has proven in the last month that he can win week long stage races and one day races with some serious hills. Those finishes in the TVV and Tour of Poland were seriously impressive. It’s still uncertain at this point if he will develop into a GT contender, but even if he doesn’t, he gives them yet another type of race they can win. As it stands they should be a force in every type of race except the GC in the Grand Tours next year.

    On another note, I really feel for the poor bastards who were under contract to Cervelo but are now suddenly unemployed very late in the season.

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