With the new WorldTour season just weeks away, riders throughout Europe will be getting set to travel to Australia for the Tour Down Under.
The transfer window has well and truly quietened down, well apart from if your name is Mark Cavendish, and multiple teams have pulled off excellent pieces of business as they look to strengthen their ranks ready for the challenges ahead.
Here are our top five signings across the men’s and women’s WorldTours to look out for this year.
Signing a rider of the calibre of Richard Carapaz marks a huge statement of intent from the Jonathan Vaughters managed EF Education-EasyPost team.
The Ecuadorean is a former Grand Tour winner, having won the Giro d’Italia in 2019, and has since consistently shined at all of the three Grand Tours throughout the past few years. Carapaz took three hugely impressive stage wins at last year’s Vuelta a Espana, as well as the mountains classification jersey, really appearing to be back in the sort of form that saw him taste Giro success.
He may have failed to win another Grand Tour since his 2019 exploits, although he has finished on the podium at the Tour de France as well as the Vuelta on two other occasions. Not only that, the 29-year-old won the Tour de Suisse in 2021 as well as the Gold Medal in the men’s Olympic road race in Tokyo therefore making him a huge coup for his new American employers.
As the route favours climbers this year, all eyes will be on Carapaz at the Tour as he looks to land EF Education-EasyPost their biggest Grand Tour result yet.
After a hugely successful spell with Team DSM, Wiebes has moved onto pastures new with SD Worx for 2023.
The Dutch sprinter managed an astonishing 23 victories in the last calendar year, therefore making her on paper one of the biggest coups ahead of the new season. This included two stage wins at the inaugural Tour de France Femmes as well as the European Championships road race.
Wiebes holds the crown as the undisputed queen of the sprints in the women’s WorldTour peloton, however that was also thanks to DSM’s phenomenal sprint train featuring the likes of Pfeiffer Georgi and Charlotte Kool.
In her new set up, Wiebes will have to occasionally take a back seat at some of the races where she’s seen so much success. With a GC rider like Demi Vollering on the team too, as well as a one day superstar in the form of Lotte Kopecky, Wiebes may find herself having to rely solely on Barbara Guarischi for a sprint train in the months ahead.
Still, Wiebes is the type of sprinter who will be more than capable of holding her own in the most chaotic of sprint finishes. The best of the rest amongst the women’s WorldTour sprinters will have to be well and truly on their guard to avoid the Dutchwoman cleaning up once more this season.
Czech rider Jan Hirt is a signing that flew somewhat under the radar when he joined Soudal-QuickStep during the off-season.
However, Hirt marks a phenomenal acquisition for the Belgian team for 2023, particularly with star man and current World Champion Remco Evenepoel gunning for glory at the Giro d’Italia. Hirt is a seriously underrated climber, who can more than hold his own when the going gets steep. A sixth place finish at this year’s Giro along with a stage win tells you everything you need to know about Evenepoel’s new teammate.
Hirt also finished inside the top 20 at the 2017 Giro, where he finished 12th overall. In the years that followed in the colours of Astana Qazaqstan, Hirt achieved fifth overall at the 2019 Tour de Suisse and seventh at the Tour of the Alps.
If Soudal-QuickStep want to ensure that Evenepoel brings home the Giro title this May, then Hirt is an essential inclusion in their team selection in order to help Evenepoel ensure that he can get the job done.
After a sensational breakout year with Valcar-Travel and Service, Italian Silvia Persico will line up for UAE ADQ on the WorldTour this season.
The standout Italian netted bronze medals at both the road and cyclo-cross world championships in 2022, and a fifth overall at the Tour de France Femmes for good measure. As if that wasn’t enough, Persico also added a stage victory at Ceratizit Challenge by La Vuelta to ensure that a move to a new team wouldn’t be far away.
Her results speak for themselves, and will ensure that Persico is a heavily marked woman at races like the Tour in the coming months in her new colours.
When she joined UAE ADQ, team manager Rubens Bertogliati said that Persico was brought in solely as a potential leader.
“Silvia Persico is our key added value to the 2023 new squad. In recent months she has further demonstrated that she fully deserves her place in this team and that she can aim to be the leader of our team in the races that best suit her characteristics,” he said.
After the backing from her new employers, expect to see Persico at the sharp end of the racing action this season as she looks to land yet more impressive accolades and repay the faith shown in her by UAE ADQ.
DYLAN VAN BAARLE
In signing Dutchman Dylan van Baarle, Jumbo-Visma have brought in a highly experienced classics rider who will add extensive firepower to their already fearsome arsenal of talent this season.
Acquiring his services also severely weakens Van Baarle’s former team Ineos Grenadiers in a one-day race setting. In 2022, the Dutchman landed a sensational Paris-Roubaix victory for Ineos which was undoubtedly his biggest career win to date.
Jumbo-Visma management have already outlined Paris-Roubaix and the Tour of Flanders as big targets for their Belgian star Wout van Aert this season, and bringing in riders like Van Baarle will help Van Aert reach that goal of landing a major monument in 2023.
As well as that, signing Van Baarle adds significant Tour de France and Grand Tour know-how to the team, and he will be a key ally to Jonas Vingegaard as he looks to defend the title in July. The Dane will be able to rely on Van Baarle’s knowledge and experience to negotiate him through the difficulties of attempting to win a second consecutive edition of the race.
With the amount of talent filling the ranks at Jumbo, you can almost certainly expect to see the Dutchman being given leadership responsibilities at a one day race this spring. Furthermore if a tilt at victory through Van Aert doesn’t quite pay off, Jumbo now has a man who’s been there, done that and got the t-shirt and would be more than capable of monument victory once again. Money well spent indeed.