The Silly Season

News & Results

09/19/2011| 0 comments
by Neil Browne
Team owner Andy Rihs has been throwing money at his BMC Racing team like a rap star at a strip bar.
Team owner Andy Rihs has been throwing money at his BMC Racing team like a rap star at a strip bar.

The Silly Season

There's a reason that the months professional cyclists negotiate their upcoming contracts is called the silly season. The reason is because during the Tour de France, rider's agents are seen sulking around teams floating offers or just generally trying to suss out how much their client is worth on the open market.

like "Survivor" - who will be voted off the island? Or maybe it's more like the "Bachelor" and we're waiting to see who gets the rose.

While this new Luxembourg squad looks to be one of the major contenders of the 2012 season with riders who can win the Classics (Fabian Cancellara) to the Grand Tours (Andy Schleck) there's another well financed squad - BMC.

Team owner Andy Rihs has been throwing money at his team like a rap star at a strip bar. And with the amount of Euros being tossed around snagging some of the peloton's best talent, it looks like Rihs' party got moved to the VIP room.

As previously reported Philippe Gilbert is joining his Monaco "BFF" Thor Hushovd in the red and black kit of BMC. Those two, in addition to 2011 Tour de France winner Cadel Evans, will make for a squad with some serious winning potential. The key word is potential. While the squad looks solid during the Spring campaign, can Evans win another Tour? Honestly I'm not so sure of that. Before I get emails from any Cadel fans I'm not saying he lucked into his win - he showed that he was a deserving winner. That said, next year Saxo Bank's Alberto Contador will be at full strength. This year started with his positive for clenbuterol hanging over his head like the Sword of Damocles.

Initially, I swore up and down the Spaniard wouldn't be allowed to ride the 2011 Tour de France. I was wrong. I swore that Contador would be found guilty and stripped of his Tour titles. Yeah, I'm looking like I'm going to be wrong there as well. There's movement afoot to change the status of clenbuterol from a zero threshold drug to allowing a certain level to be in the body - which I'm sure the amount found in Contador would be below the new threshold. The reason for my suspicion? If Contador's victories are yanked away only two of the past 13 Tours de France leaders haven't been tainted by accusations of doping or suffered outright disqualification. You don't need to be a Harvard business school grad to know this is bad for business. I suspect Alberto Contador will be allowed to race next year, his positive for clenbuterol swept away like a bad memory and Tour victories kept intact. But I digress...

Contador will be at full strength, the Schlecks have been bolstered by new recruits and who did Cadel get to back him up in the mountains? I know, American Tejay Van Garderen signed on the dotted line for BMC, but otherwise it's just the Classics squad that got the upgrade. Cadel is definitely on the short list of winners for next July, I just don't see him stepping up onto the top podium again.

There are still a couple of marquee riders who haven't announced their 2012 intentions. Mark Cavendish's HTC-Highroad team is no more and the Manx man has been heavily linked to the British Sky team. It makes sense - he's British

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