January Sales: Visma-Lease a Bike searching for a final rider with Boasson Hagen linked to Decathlon AG2R

Dutch team confirm to GCN they are in the market for a potential signing but deny that Odd Christian Eiking is on his way to the team

Clock18:41, Friday 5th January 2024
Edvald Boasson Hagen on the cobbles in 2023

© Velo Collection (TDW) / Getty Images

Edvald Boasson Hagen on the cobbles in 2023

It might be January but there are still riders to be found on the transfer market and both Visma-Lease a Bike and Decathlon AG2R La Mondiale have been linked with high-profile moves for experienced WorldTour pros, with Edvald Boasson Hagen and Odd Christian Eiking in the mix.

Visma-Lease a Bike might be the most successful Grand Tour team of 2023 but they are heading into the new road season with 27 riders. For comparison, UAE Team Emirates have 30, and Ineos Grenadiers 29.

The Dutch team has not hit the panic button but after Lennard Hofstede decided to retire at the start of the year a place has become vacant on the team of Wout van Aert and Jonas Vingegaard.

Read more: Jumbo-Visma Team Talk: What does life after Roglič look like?

With most of the team’s budget wrapped up in their major leaders, and with plans already set in terms of race calendars and schedules the reality is that only a low-budget, free agent would fit the bill for the Dutch squad.

There have been reports that Odd Christian Eiking could move to the team but the management at Visma-Lease a Bike have told GCN that this will not happen.

The 29-year-old was not retained by EF Education-EasyPost at the end of 2023 after a relatively quiet spell on the American team. A solid climber with four Grand Tours under his belt, the Norwegian would give Richard Plugge’s team vital reinforcements during the season, and in a recent podcast the Wielerflits team suggested that the Norwegian would be a perfect fit for the squad given his all-round qualities.

The minimum number of riders in a men’s WorldTour team is 27 and the future is currently unclear regarding Michel Hessmann, who returned a positive test for a diuretic last year and was subsequently suspended. Regarding the reports that the team could bolster their squad with a 28th rider, a spokesperson for the team told GCN: “Yes, we are looking for a replacement for Lennard, after his decision was only made in December. We’d like a rider.”

Meanwhile, according to reports in landevei.no, veteran rider Edvald Boasson Hagen is on the radar of French WorldTour team Decathlon AG2R La Mondiale.

Boasson Hagen was deemed surplus to requirements at the end of 2023 and has been looking for a contract ever since with the 36-year-old keen to prolong his racing career at the highest level. Boasson Hagen had been linked to several teams over the winter, including dsm, Ineos Grenadiers and Uno-X but Decathlon AG2R La Mondiale now seem close to picking up the former Tour de France stage winner with the offer of a 17th season in the pro ranks.

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