Could Team Sky be starting to come together?
I am not usually the type of person who allows internet forum hype to cloud my judgement but the sort of threads on sites such as Bike Radar and Veloriders surrounding the upcoming Team Sky has left me salivating (and not with Swine Flu) (Honest).
There has been a list of riders circulating the 'net which you will all have seen. Some of the stand out names on there are Damiano Cunego, Juan Antonio Flecha and Serge Pauwels.
Cunego the 2004 Giro winner will need no introduction but I can't see Dave Brailsford and Shane Sutton basing their grand tour aspirations around the Italian. He has of course tried to morph into a classics campaigner and you wonder whether Team Sky will be going for quick results next season to ensure the ASO give them a Tour de France place.
If that is the case and Cunego is on their shopping list, I would like to put a fiver on him to attack on the Poggio in Milan San Remo now... Remember where you read it first.
It could be that he could go onto lead the squad through the Giro. But with Sky having lots of interests in Italy you would think they might be tempted by a GC rider who could have a tilt. Jurgen Van den Brocke anyone?
Cyclingnews.com has revealed that Juan Antonio Flecha has revealed that his four year stay at Rabobank is over and the popular Spaniard has been long linked with the new British outfit.
I would have no problem with JAF joining Sky. He is a rider who is up there in the Northern spring classics, without ever looking likely to win. With right support he could land a Paris-Roubaix or a Ronde. I would think that this one is a real possibility.
Pauwels was very strong in the Giro and the strength of the leaders of Team Sky will only be revealed if the domestiques below them are up to scratch. You would look at someone like Bernhard Eisel or Marcus Berghart as mess to keep the team leader out of the wind and stocked up with water.
One man who is ruling himself out at this stage is Bradley Wiggins. He has told the Guardian that he is keen to stay with Garmin/Slipstream until his contract ends at the end of next season. Click here to read the article.
With that in mind, one of Wiggo's rivals for that fourth place in Paris must be the first choice to take the role of Tour de France leader for Sky and that is Vicenzo Nibali. 'The Shark' had a brilliant three weeks in July and you would say that with age on his side, he has the most room for improvement.
Liquigas are up to their eyeballs with grand tour leaders such as Ivan Basso (booooo!) and the unspellable Roman Kreuziger. Although a double headed approach of the Czech and Nibali would be mouth watering for us!!!
Of the Brits you would say that Mark Cavendish will only come over if his train came with him. But I have already mentioned Eisel and Berghart as top quality domestiques so you never know. Chris Froome and Geraint Thomas will be available when Barloworld wraps up this season.
There have been rumours over Steve Cummings and Ian Stannard. Longer odds punts would be Halfords/Bikehut rider Ian Wilkinson who has done very well in races of all distance on the domestic calendar and the Dean and Russell Downing, whose last sojurn to the mainland was cut short with Team DFL/Driving Force.
Etiher way I want the speculation to end and the signing spree to start!!
All this speculation is like being a fantasy Director Sportive