According to a report in La Gazzetta dello Sport, Andy and Fränk Scheck are considering leaving Team Saxo Bank to form their own team at the end of this season, and have plans to take World and Olympic Time Trial Champion Fabian Cancellara with them.
The brothers will become free agents at the end of this year upon the expiry of their contracts, and according to the Italian sports daily have already lined up key personnel for their proposed outfit.
The Gazzetta claims that the brothers have recruited Marc Biver as team manager, while the Dane Kim Andersen, currently directeur sportive at Saxo Bank, which is owned by Riis Cycling, will undertake a similar role at their new team.
Both are potentially controversial choices. The 58-year-old Biver, who like the Schleck brothers, comes from Luxembourg and also holds a Swiss passport, lost his job as manager of Astana in the wake of the doping scandal that engulfed the Kazakh team during the 2007 Tour de France.
Meanwhile, Andersen, who in 1983 became the first Dane to wear the yellow jersey at the Tour de France, at one point received a lifetime ban for doping, subsequently reduced on appeal to one year. Once he resumed racing, however, he tested positive again, in 1992. Despite his history with drugs, he is reportedly highly thought of as a directeur sportive.
As for Cancellara, the Italian paper points out that he has another year left on his contract. While similar contractual circumstances didn’t stop Team Sky or BMC Racing from signing, respectively, Bradley Wiggins and Cadel Evans in recent months, UCI President Pat McQuaid recently said that the governing body was looking at tightening up rules regarding riders under contract switching teams.
The potential departure of the Schleck brothers, both of whom finished in the top five in the general classification in last summer’s Tour de France with Andy coming second, will come as a further blow to Saxo Bank.
In January, Bjarne Riis’s outfit was told that its headline sponsor would be pulling its backing a year early at the end of this season after the Danish financial institution decided its marketing budget was better spent elsewhere, and has yet to announce a replacement.
Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.