Seven prominent riders without contracts for 2016

With the season over, a few top pros are left without teams for 2016 — time is running out for them to secure spots in the WorldTour.

Photo: Tim De Waele

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MILAN (VN) — The season is over and the 2016 training camps start soon, but a handful of top cyclists are still looking for jobs. The list includes a Vuelta a España stage winner, Milano-Sanremo victors, and one who’s worn the Tour’s yellow jersey.

Most of the 17 WorldTeams have completed their rosters. Professional Continental teams, too. Now, riders without contracts must squeeze in the remaining spots, downgrade, or perhaps retire.

Filippo Pozzato (Lampre-Merida)

The Italian won Milano-Sanremo in 2006 when racing for Quick-Step. Since, he has bounced around four different teams in the professional peloton and celebrated fewer victories. He counts two stages in the Tour de France and several podiums in the northern classics, including second in the Ronde van Vlaanderen and Paris-Roubaix.

However, the 34-year-old has not won since the 2013 GP Ouest-Plouay. This year, the best he achieved was 12th in the Ronde. Lampre wanted to rid itself of him last year, and is now doing so with his contract expired.

Tinkoff-Saxo reportedly wanted Pozzato for 2016, a move which could be more logical now that it signed his friend and former teammate Oscar Gatto. The most likely outfit now appears to be Italy’s Southeast, known as Tharcor for the time being.

Gerald Ciolek (MTN-Qhubeka)

The German gave MTN its best debut possible in 2013 with his win in the snow-ravaged Milano-Sanremo. Now, with Mark Cavendish coming onboard and bringing Mark Renshaw and Bernhard Eisel, the team has little space for Ciolek.

The 29-year-old last won in the Ruta del Sol, in February 2014. This year, he placed second behind Sagan in a Tirreno-Adriatico stage.

Davide Rebellin (CCC Sprandi-Polkowice)

The Italian, 44, was handed a doping ban stemming from the 2008 Olympics and could have retired long ago, but he continues — and wins. This year, he collected victories in the Tour of Turkey and the Coppa Agostoni. Now, it seems surprising that Polish Pro Continental team, CCC has yet to re-sign him.

“I completed my 23rd season as professional,” he wrote on his Facebook page last week. “In a few days, I’ll tell you whether or not you’ll see me racing in 2016.”

Chris Sutton (Sky)

‘CJ’ gave team Sky its first official win in 2010 when he sprinted ahead of the Tour Down Under pack in stage 6. Since, he won the Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne one-day classic and a stage in the Vuelta a España, and worked for sprinters like Mark Cavendish and Elia Viviani. The 31-year-old Australian is sure about one thing: He is due to marry soon. A new team is less certain.

Igor Anton (Movistar)

The Basque climber ruled one of cycling’s most feared climbs, Monte Zoncolan in the 2011 Giro d’Italia. Team Movistar snaffled him to help Nairo Quintana win the Giro in 2014.

This year, the 32-year-old won the Vuelta Asturias overall and placed third in the Vuelta a Castilla y Leon behind Pierre Rolland (Europcar), but he has been less successful inking a contract. He confirmed, after poor results in the second half of 2015, that he will not re-up with Spain’s Movistar team.

Ivan Santaromita (Orica-GreenEdge)

The former Italian champion, after two years with Orica, will reportedly sign for Astana. He trained with Nibali before his win in Il Lombardia — a sign, but not a certainty that Santaromita will wear turquoise in 2016.

Rinaldo Nocentini (AG2R La Mondiale)

Nocentini counts five wins, but most remember the Italian best for wearing the yellow jersey at the 2009 Tour de France for eight days. Though 38, professional since 1999, Nocentini wants to continue. According to local media, he has options with Lampre, IAM Cycling, and Caja Rural.

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